November 2023


Clarke, LorinWould that be funny?
Cropp, RyanDonald Horne
Elliott, HelenEleven letters to you
Leon, DonnaWandering through life
Nadesalingam, PriyaHome to Biloela
Norris, MeganOut of the ashes
Patterson, TomMissing
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Allahyari, HamedSalamati

In this satisfying debut, chef Allahyari weaves together personal and culinary history with recipes that call forth the flavors of his native Tehran. As he details in his elegiac opening, Allahyari, under threat as an atheist (“a really big deal” in Iran), fled to Australia in 2012 with his pregnant girlfriend, where he began teaching cooking classes and, in 2019, opened SalamaTea, a Persian restaurant outside of Melbourne. Drawing on the recipes from SalamaTea’s kitchen, Allahyari embraces both traditional choices from Silk Road cuisine and new inventions, like savory “truffles” of feta, fennel seeds, and ground walnuts. Persian food’s zesty and herbaceous traits show in solid recipes including eggplant that is grilled, pan-fried, and topped with kashk or yogurt, and a bracing salad of tomatoes and pomegranate seeds dressed with vinegar and pomegranate molasses. Chapters arranged by course are interspersed with suggested menus: a lavish winter spread centers pilaf and chicken stew, while an array of street foods includes Persian hot dogs, and ice cream with pistachios, saffron, and rosewater. Endearing headnotes continue the thread of personal connection and also drop in cultural tidbits: a cucumber soup garnished with rose petals, for instance, is considered conducive to afternoon napping. The result is a fresh and heartfelt take on a storied cuisine with enduring appeal. Publisher’s Weekly, May 2022

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Archer, JeffreyTraitors gate
Bergmoser, GabrielThe caretaker
Byeong-Mo, GuThe Old Woman With the Knife
Craig, HollyThe shallows
Dalton, TrentLola in the mirror
Duncan, SusanSleepless in Stringybark Bay
Eng, Tan TwanThe house of doors
Henn, CarstenThe door-to-door bookstore
Hepworth, SallyDarling girls
Ireland, LisaThe one and only Dolly Jamieson
Jewell, LisaNone of this is true
Kashiwai, HisashiThe Kamogawa food detectives
Kawaguchi, ToshikazuBefore your memory fades
Lucashenko, MelissaEdenglassie
Lynch, PaulProphet song
Maroo, ChetnaWestern Lane
Mildenhall, KateThe hummingbird effect
Miller, SuziePrima facie
Mills, KyleCode red
Morris, HeatherSisters under the rising sun
Nesbo, JoThe night house
Prak, MichelleThe rush
Stephens, JessieSomething bad is going to happen
Ward, CameronThe safe house
Wood, CharlotteStone Yard devotional

Western Lane by Chetna Maroo

In Maroo’s compact and powerful debut, the members of a grieving Jain family dedicate their lives to squash in late-1980s England. After Gopi, Khush, and Mona’s mother dies, their father decides to transform the family’s casual weekly games into an intense training program. Gopi, the youngest at 11, quickly becomes the best competitor of the trio, and when not at school or Gujarati class, she studies videos of matches and hones her game in the courts at an athletic center called Western Lane, eventually practicing against Ged, the white 13-year-old son of an employee there. The pair catch the eye of Maqsud, a Pakistani man who urges them to register for an upcoming tournament. Gopi steps up her training, falling for Ged in the process. Meanwhile, Mona, 15, takes on household duties, and the grieving Khush, 13, prefers to speak in their mother’s favored Gujarati. With Gopi’s fluid narration, Maroo skillfully balances the drama of Gopi’s upcoming squash tournament with the nuances of family drama, describing, for instance, how their father’s encounters with Ged’s mother differ from his “way with Ma or our aunties or any of the women we knew.” This will invigorate readers. Publisher’s Weekly, November 2022



None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

In this edgy thriller from bestseller Jewell (The Family Remains), meek housewife Josie Fair and true crime podcaster Alix Summers meet by chance in a pub where both are celebrating their 45th birthdays. Immediately obsessed with her more successful counterpart, Josie engineers several “chance” meetings with Alix—including one outside her children’s school—in order to forge a friendship. Instead of feeling threatened, Alix decides to feature Josie on a podcast about the lives of ordinary women. Before long, though, Josie divulges that beneath her modest middle-class home life lie instances of pedophilia, child abuse, and even murder. But are any of Josie’s stories true? As Alix digs deeper, she begins to question her new friend’s motives for meeting her in the first place, and through a series of reversals, comes to fear she’s been set up in a twisted game of cat and mouse. Jewell devotees who love the author’s signature twisted characters and acidic cultural commentary—here focused on the travails of internet celebrity—will be satisfied by this pitch-black outing and its shocking climax, but readers with a lower tolerance for nastiness should turn elsewhere. Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins fans, this one’s for you. Publisher’s Weekly, June 2022


Prophet Song by Paul Lynch

An Irish family is shattered by the rise of a radical right-wing party in this slow-burning dystopian novel from Lynch (Grace). In the near future, Ireland is governed by the National Alliance Party, an eerily totalitarian mutation of nationalist politics dating back to the Troubles. Their leaders employ a militant secret police force, which rounds up trade unionist Larry Stack after he participates in a protest march. Larry’s four children assume he’s been killed along with others “disappeared” by the NAP, but his wife, Eilish, is in denial and refuses to consider leaving for somewhere safer. Lynch renders Eilish’s inner world with relentless blocks of page-long paragraphs, unbroken even during conversations with her father, Simon, who, in his dementia, often blurs past and present (he describes NAP “thugs” as “trouble,” suggesting they are reminiscent of IRA soldiers). Some of this might be lost on readers unfamiliar with the history. Still, the momentum of the prose lends an air of portentousness to the narrative until Eilish’s denial finally crumbles as she claims the body of one of her sons, who has been tortured to death, from a military hospital. Readers well-versed in the context will find Lynch’s vision painfully plausible. Publisher’s Weekly, October 2023


The Night House by Jo Nesbo

Bestselling crime writer Nesbø takes a break from his Harry Hole detective series with this wild and ambitious but not entirely successful three-part horror opus. The first and longest section is narrated by Richard Elauved, a rambunctious 14-year-old orphan who delights in playing pranks and manipulating gullible school chums in the small town of Ballantyne. After two friends disappear in his presence under horrifying and otherworldly circumstances, Richard fails to convince incredulous authorities that the supernatural was involved. Instead, he’s whisked away to the Rorrim Correctional Facility for Young People. After the distinct and intentional YA vibe of this opening, Nesbø pulls the rug out from under the reader in the novel’s second section, skewing the tale in a different direction that sheds light on possible sources for some of the earlier horrors even as it serves up new ones. Then, Nesbø does it again in a third section whose rationalizations for all of the preceding weirdness are disappointingly anticlimactic. Nesbø shows a sure hand at crafting moments of terror, but only his most devoted readers won’t cock an eyebrow at the bait-and-switch plotting. Despite some memorable individual scares, horror aficionados are likely to grow frustrated with this. Publisher’s Weekly, August 2023


Prima facie by Suzie Miller

A London lawyer’s faith in the legal system is tested after she’s sexually assaulted. As a criminal defense attorney, Tessa Ensler is often called upon to argue on behalf of people accused of rape. Possessed of an acute knowledge of the law and a brilliant mind (and, as she comes to realize, the default upper hand), Tessa routinely wins acquittals for her clients. She never resorts to dirty tactics such as suggesting the alleged victims “asked for it” by wearing revealing clothes; she simply teases out inconsistencies, contradictions, and other flaws in their accounts, enough to plant a seed of doubt in the jurors’ minds. Her role, as she sees it, is to tell the best version of a defendant’s story; the prosecutor is tasked with doing the same for the plaintiff. Then, it’s up to the judge to decide which narrative is more plausible. To Tessa, the law, for all its imperfections, is truly a force for justice. If one of the clients she’s successfully defended is indeed found guilty, well, the fault lies with the prosecutor for dropping the ball. Based on Miller’s play of the same name, this novel considers the chasm between what Tessa terms “the legal truth” and the actual truth. Can a system built by and for wealthy white men really do right by anyone who doesn’t fit that mold? Tessa’s answer changes after an ill-fated date with a fellow barrister. Back at her apartment, in a violent encounter rendered in horrifyingly vivid detail (that’s a compliment to Miller, not a critique), he forces himself on her, ignoring her protestations and pinning her down. More than two years later, the resulting trial begins—a chance for Tessa to not only have her day in court, but also to assess the effectiveness of the institution she upholds. While the opening chapters can drag (since we know where the plot is headed), the pivotal scene hits like a ton of bricks, evoking in full the physical and emotional horror of sexual assault and its lasting effects on the victim. A rawly moving debut filled with insights into the legal system and its shortcomings. Kirkus Review, October 2023

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Harrison, JaneThe visitors
Stockwin, JulianThe Iberian flame
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Bell, GaryPost mortem
Boland, PeterThe Charity Shop Detective Agency
Bruton, KeithThe Lemon Man
Chowdhury, AjayThe cook
de Jager, AnjaDeath in the Red Light District
Dixon, JoThe house of now and then
Fargo, LayneThey never learn
Francis, FelixNo reserve
Hammer, ChrisThe seven
Herbert, KarenVertigo
Jenkins, JoannaHow to kill a client
Jerrold, IantheThere may be danger
King, StephenFinders Keepers
King, StephenHolly
Lackberg, CamillaCult
McDermid, ValPast lying
Papathanasiou, PeterThe pit
Simon, NinaMother-daughter murder night
Simpson, RogerResurrection
Stevenson, BenjaminEveryone on this train is a suspect
Warner, DaveSummer of blood
Weaver, TimThe Last Goodbye
Yokomizo, SeishiThe Devil’s flute murders

The Lemon Man by Keith Bruton

The well-ordered life of Dublin hit man Patrick Callen, the narrator of Irish author Bruton’s entertaining debut, is turned upside-down when he impulsively takes custody of the 11-month-old infant son of his most recent victim. However, as Patrick and his girlfriend, Olivia, struggle to puzzle out the mysteries of nappies and late-night feedings, he has to scramble all the harder to keep up with the workload of a busy murderer-for-hire. Meanwhile, his mother is dying and has medical bills to pay, Olivia is in the dark about what he does for a living (she naively thinks he’s babysitting for a friend), and the Garda have put out a priority alert for the missing infant. More seriously, his newfound domestic distractions have caused him to bungle what should have been a pair of routine hits, putting his employment in jeopardy. Not surprisingly, things work out for everyone in the end, but the humor and drama of getting there will delight readers. Sparkling prose, a well-realized setting, and appealing characters make this offbeat crime novel a winner. Bruton is definitely an author to watch. Publisher’s Weekly, April 2022


Past Lying by Val McDermid

The riveting seventh installment in McDermid’s Karen Pirie series (after 2020’s Still Life) sees the Edinburgh DCI parsing a potentially deadly literary rivalry at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. As head of Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit, Karen has spent the bulk of her time in lockdown researching details on a stack of unsolved crimes. An especially intriguing one lands on her desk courtesy of a researcher at the National Library, who’s unearthed new evidence about the year-old disappearance of Lara Hardie, a novice crime writer who idolized bestseller Jake Stein. Stein, whose career hit the skids after he was accused of sexual assault at a book launch before the pandemic, has recently died of cancer, and a subsequent perusal of his belongings has turned up a manuscript that reads like a chilling roman à clef of Hardie’s murder. In it, Stein appears to admit to strangling Hardie and planning to frame his personal and professional rival, Ross McEwan. More digging reveals that McEwan has been carrying on an affair with Stein’s wife, Rosalind, so Karen and her team set out to determine the level of Stein’s and McEwan’s involvement in Hardie’s disappearance. McDermid keeps the twists coming hard and fast, and she bolsters them with sharp observations about the toll of Covid on the public psyche. This page-turner grips from the outset and doesn’t let go. Publisher’s Weekly, August 2023

Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon

Three women bond while investigating a homicide in Simon’s spirited debut. Lana Rubicon and her 17-year-old daughter, Beth, become estranged when Beth gets pregnant and relocates five hours north of Los Angeles to raise her baby alone. Fifteen years later, Lana is a high-powered L.A. real estate developer, and Beth is a nurse who shares a humble cottage in Elkhorn Slough with her now-teenage daughter, Jack. Though Lana has always refused to visit Beth and Jack’s “shack about to fall into a mud pit,” she moves in while undergoing treatment for cancer. Four months of cohabitation do nothing to curb her feelings of uselessness and alienation from her daughter and granddaughter, however. Then, a kayak tour led by Jack comes across naturalist Ricardo Cruz’s floating corpse. Racist local police target Jack—who’s half Filipino on her father’s side—based on the flimsy testimony of one of her clients, and Lana resolves to exonerate her granddaughter and reconnect with Beth in the process. Simon stocks her layered plot with plausibly motivated suspects and convincing red herrings, but it’s her indomitable female characters and their nuanced relationships that give this mystery its spark. Readers will be delighted. Publisher’s Weekly, June 2023


The Devil’s Flute Murders by Seishi Yokomizo

Yokomizo (1902–1981) is at his absolute best in this fourth whodunit featuring Tokyo private detective Kosuke Kindaichi (after 2022’s Death on Gokumon Island). In 1947, Kindaichi is consulted by 20-something Mineko Tsubaki. Her father, Hidesuke, a flautist and composer, disappeared the previous spring, and his corpse was found six weeks later. The official verdict was that Hidesuke poisoned himself, but Mineko and her mother, who believe the corpse was misidentified, suspect he may still be alive. Kindaichi agrees to attend a divination session intended to summon the musician’s spirit and confirm his demise, during which another member of the Tsubaki household is murdered. Now saddled with two cases, Kindaichi must suss out Tsubaki family secrets to prevent even more carnage. From the ominous opening through the brilliant final reveal, Yokomizo ably blends suspense and fair-play detection. Superior atmospherics (“As I take up my pen to begin recording this miserable tale, I cannot help but feel some pangs of conscience,” Kindaichi begins) and a persistent sense of menace mark this as a classic of the genre. Publisher’s Weekly, May 2023

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Adams, MichaelThe murder squad
Carroll, RoryKilling Thatcher
Courtenay, AdamThree sheets to the wind
Glover, RichardBest wishes
Marr, DavidKilling for country
Muir, Jennifer,Dementia journey
Ogilvie, SarahThe dictionary people
Ringland, HollyThe house that joy built

The Dictionary People by Sarah Ogilvie

“I am sure that lovers of our language will not willingly let die the names of those who… have labored in the cause of the Dictionary,” wrote Oxford English Dictionary editor James Murray in 1892. In this charming debut history, Ogilvie, another former editor of the OED, answers her predecessor’s 130-year-old imperative. After stumbling upon Murray’s leather-bound diaries and address books in the OED archives, Ogilvie set out to uncover “the dictionary people,” 3,000 individuals across the globe who heeded the call to be part of the largest crowdsourcing effort in history. Invited through newspaper notices to “read the books they had to hand, and to mail to the Editor of the Dictionary examples of how particular words were used,” individuals from all walks of life responded, including “three murderers, a pornography collector, Karl Marx’s daughter, a President of Yale, the inventor of the tennis-net adjuster, a pair of lesbian writers who wrote under a male pen name, and a cocaine addict found dead in a railway station lavatory.” Ogilvie not only introduces readers to a fascinating cross-section of Victorian society, but notes the groundbreaking nature of the OED project; for example, “the radical and open process of the Dictionary’s making… included hundreds of women” at a time when they were often excluded from academic pursuits. The whimsical narrative is also educational, providing extensive insight into the process used to trace the origins of words. Readers will be enthralled. Publisher’s Weekly, July 2023

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Baldacci, DavidThe width of the world
MacLeod, KenBeyond the reach of Earth
Pratchett, TerryA stroke of the pen

The width of the world by David Baldacci

Vega Jane and her cohorts at last find the home base of the evil wizards who have conquered the world—and discover that rebellion carries a high price. Having escaped the town of Wormwood and the spell-protected wilderness around it in search of her family, newly fledged sorceress Vega Jane now confronts the Maladons—malign magicians who have ruled everywhere else for eight centuries over a populace brainwashed into mindless contentment. Working from a mansion that the head Maladon visited in olden times but is now somehow hidden (internal consistency is not a priority here), Vega Jane recruits and trains a small army of magicians to fight back while effecting rescues and eluding multiple ambushes with help from a ring of invisibility and spells that involve pointing wands and shouting words such as “Embattlemento” and “Engulfiado” that beg (unfavorable) comparison to J.K. Rowling. Baldacci mixes adolescent snogging, animate housewares, another talking book (see Volume 2, The Keeper, 2015), and bad guys uniformly dressed in pinstripe suits and brown bowlers into a tale that also features casual killing, torture, and forked-tongued demons. Throughout, he continues to demonstrate that he doesn’t have Rowling’s knack for mixing sly fun with truly dark doings. Moreover, repeated glimpses of characters with dark or brown (or “walnut”) skin are at best weak efforts to inject diversity into the cast. A quest fantasy that moves further into mediocrity despite plenty of borrowed notions and tropes. Kirkus Review, December 2016

A Stroke of the Pen by Terry Pratchett

The late, great Sir Terry Pratchett (1948–2015) famously had his hard drive crushed by a steamroller after his death to prevent the posthumous publication of any unfinished work. Now, however, “uber-fans” Pat and Jan Harkin have unearthed a treasure trove of Pratchett’s early writing published in the 1970s under the pseudonym Patrick Kearns. The result: a collection of 20 excellent, often laugh-out-loud early works. Pratchett’s fans will be particularly delighted with “The Quest for the Keys,” which contains the first mention of the Discworld series’ Morpork, as well as the set of short stories focusing on Father Christmas leaving a job vacancy—“Wanted: A Fat, Jolly Man with a Red Woolly Hat” and “The New Father Christmas”—which will remind readers of Pratchett’s Hogfather. The collection also includes a touching foreword from Pratchett’s good friend and Good Omens collaborator Neil Gaiman, and a concludng essay from the Harkins explaining their methodology and their discoveries. Pratchett devotees will be moved and gratified by this unexpected gift and even casual readers will be utterly charmed. There isn’t a bad story in the bunch. Publisher’s Weekly, October 2023

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Fermor, Patrick LeighA time of gifts
Mayle, PeterA year in Provence

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

A lively month-by-month account of a British expatriate’s first year in the Provencal region of southern France. When Mayle (a GQ columnist) and his wife decided to move into a 200-year-old farmhouse in the Vaucluse, they entered a world as different from London as sunshine is from rain. Entertaining visits from a plumber with a theory about everything (e.g., why “”Mozart would have made a formidable electrician””), inventing methods for luring elusive masons back to work (the most successful ploy: invite them and their more-conscientious wives to a champagne party), and attending a foul-smelling midsummer goat-race (as explained by an experienced bettor, “”An empty goat is faster then a full goat””) are just some of the diversions that became commonplace to their lives. In addition to local color, Mayle re-creates the Provencal countryside–as well as describes meal after mouthwatering meal–with a flair for seductive detail that never becomes offensively florid. And a keen eye for the eccentric–along with a good-humored ability to offer his own gaffes for entertainment–counterbalances a slightly less appealing tendency to refer to “”peasants”” and scoff at other less-genteel visitors to the region. Funny, evocative, and perceptive–Mayle’s first book is a delight. Kirkus Reviews


A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor

Rucksack on his back, “”scrapes and upheavals and fitful streaks of promise”” behind, the author sailed from a London wharf in December 1933 for Rotterdam; he was eighteen, and set on walking to Constantinople. “”A new life! Freedom! Something to write about!”” Hundreds, thousands of minute observations mark Fermor’s passage across Holland, up the Rhine, along the Danube, into Vienna, the Slav world, and Prague, so that his chronicle comes to resemble a miniaturist’s landscape, even–in its crowded eventlessness–a petitpoint tapestry. True, National Socialism in an issue in Germany, and the apolitical “”British student”” finds himself caught between pros and cons. At Stuttgart he is taken in by two cheerful girls–music students–and spends a wintry weekend sharing confidences and “”drinking Annie’s father’s wine.”” Penniless in Vienna–the result of foolishly tipping a chauffeur–he sketches portraits from house to house on the urging of a gentle Ichabod Crane from the Frisian Islands. Konrad, however, is the book’s only rememberable character, for Fermor himself merges with the scenery once London is left behind. He sees, he writes, he reflects with acuity. In Holland, “”numberless slow-motion museum afternoons [are] summoned back to life,”” and Fermor understands why the falling Icarus is secondary to Breughel’s plowed fields and plowman. The transparent spire of Ulm Minster disappears “”into a moulting eiderdown of cloud,”” and “”a russet-scaled labyrinth of late medieval roofs embeds the baroque splendors”” of strange, Mitteleuropa Prague. Did Bohemia have a seacoast once? The reader who, reminded of A Winter’s Tale, wonders with Fermor, will find him splendid company en route to this and other select discoveries. Kirkus Reviews

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GeneralBaldacci, DavidThe Edge
GeneralBeaumont, SophieThe Paris Cooking School
GeneralGray, MadeleineGreen Dot
HistoricalGold, DougThe Dressmaker and the Hidden Soldier
MysteryAdams, ElleryInk and Shadows
MysteryConnelly, MichaelResurrection Walk
MysteryHammer, ChrisThe Seven
MysteryHilary, SarahBlack Thorn
MysteryManansala, Mia P.Murder and Mamon
Sci-FiLiu, Em X.The Death I Gave Him

The Death I Gave Him by Em X Liu

Liu (If Found, Return to Hell) recasts Hamlet as a high-tech thriller in this ingenious sci-fi retelling of Shakespeare’s classic. When Elsinore Labs’ Operating System AI, who prefers to be called Horatio, accesses data from Dr. Graham Lichfield’s lab, he’s shocked to find that Lichfield, the creator of neuromapper technology that preserves “your ongoing thoughts, your way of thinking, everything that makes up who you are” after death, is dead himself. Lichfield’s son Hayden, a researcher into longevity and the first person on the scene, utilizes the neuromapper to communicate with his late father—who discloses that he was murdered and asks his son to avenge him. Hayden’s suspicions initially focus on his uncle, Charles, but Liu manages to make the mystery suspenseful even for those who know the original story well. Nimble perspective shifts—Horatio, Hayden, and the Ophelia stand-in, Felicia Xia, daughter of the labs’ security head, all narrate—help keep readers guessing about what actually happened. This is a nail-biter. Publisher’s Weekly, July 2023



Resurrection Walk by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband. The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game. The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot. Kirkus Review, September 2023


Murder and Mamon by Mia P. Manansala

A pair of new arrivals spell trouble for the indefatigable Filipina foodies of Shady Grove, Illinois. The first arrival is homegrown: the laundromat Lila Macapagal’s godmothers—Ninang April, Ninang Mae, and Ninang June—are about to open next door to the dry cleaner Ninang June inherited from her late husband. Ultima Bolisay, whose family owns the town’s only laundromat, isn’t happy about the opening, and neither is whoever decorates the Calendar Crew’s establishment with spray-painted injunctions to “MIND YOUR BUSINESS.” (Wonder if these could be the same person.) The other arrival has come from halfway around the world: Ninang April’s niece Divina de los Santos, an art school graduate who’s visiting from the Philippines because she wants to keep up with her relatives, or check out her career prospects, or flirt with the locals, or put some distance between herself and something that happened back home. Almost from the get-go, Lila thinks there’s something off about Divina, but the bad buzz isn’t nearly enough to explain why the visitor is killed one night inside the new laundromat. Afraid that they’ll never be able to open the place, Lila’s godmothers want her to investigate, and when Jonathan Park, the retired police detective whose brother, dentist Jae Park, is Lila’s boyfriend, agrees to work his contacts to help her, she agrees. The mystery, as in Lila’s first three cases, is so consistently upstaged by the frenzy of delectable dishes lovingly prepared and consumed at Tita Rosie’s Kitchen, which Lila’s grandmother owns, and the neighboring Brew-ha Cafe run by Lila and her friends Elena Torres and Adeena Awan, that readers will be doubly surprised at the surprise unmasking. Sorry, other food cozies. You can’t hold a candle to this mouthwatering franchise. Kirkus Review, July 2023


Ink and Shadows by Ellery Adams

A North Carolina bookseller takes time out from her vocation of matching every reader with the perfect book to solve another murder. Nora Pennington, the owner of Miracle Books in Miracle Springs, has a coterie of friends calling themselves the Secret, Book, and Scone Society. Each member’s success in overcoming a troubled past has given her the strength and insight to help Nora solve several murders. After Celeste Leopold and her moody daughter, Bren, open a health-food store selling CBD oil in Miracle Springs, they’re shunned and verbally attacked by the narrow-minded Women of Lasting Values Society, which also targets Nora’s shop for putting a display of books about witches in the window for Halloween. When Bren is found dead in Nora’s yard, the only clue is a sheet of paper covered with strange symbols and letters that she left under Nora’s doormat. Nora’s group springs into action to support Celeste and do some detection. Nora gives the local sheriff a recommendation of an expert to identify the paper, which brings her former college roommate to town, though Nora hasn’t seen her since her own life fell apart years earlier. A joyful reconciliation is followed by the identification of the paper as being much older than the ink. Could someone’s attempt to create a faux valuable item have served as the motive for murder? The answer seems to lie in Celeste’s mysterious past, which she keeps hidden—until her death puts Nora in grave danger. Lovers of reading and strong women will be impressed by this entertaining cozy packed with mystery, romance, and sisterhood. Publisher’s Weekly, November 2020

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GeneralRose, JenevaYou Shouldn’t Have Come Here
MysteryAmphlett, RachelCover the Bones
MysteryBassoff, JonBeneath Cruel Waters
MysteryEllis, JoyMarshlight
MysteryKalteis, DietrichNobody from Somewhere
MysteryKing, KarenThe retreat
MysterySchellman, KatharineDeath at the Manor
MysteryThompson, VictoriaMurder on Amsterdam Avenue
MysteryTodd, MarionOld Bones Lie
SFSkrutskie, EmilyThe Salvation Gambit

Death at the Manor by Katharine Schellman

Schellman’s excellent third Regency mystery featuring widow Lily Adler (after 2021’s Silence in the Library) takes Lily from London to Hampshire for an extended stay with an aunt, Eliza Pierce. Eliza’s village is buzzing about the gray-garbed female ghost said to haunt Belleford, the derelict manor owned by the Wright family. Thomas Wright, a restless bachelor who lives with his sister, Selina, under their widowed mother’s thumb, relishes the attention the veiled specter commands. While Thomas gives Lily a tour of the ghost’s usual haunts, Selina discovers their mother dead in her bedroom. Mrs. Wright’s bruised chest and agonized expression indicate foul play, but her room was locked from the inside with the only existing key. Unlike the Wrights and the villagers, rational Lily doesn’t hold the “gray lady” responsible for the death. Attractive widower Matthew Spencer helps her probe the family and the few servants who haven’t fled Belleford in fear. Schellman ably interweaves appealing developments in Lily’s personal life, a classic locked-room puzzle, and a nuanced look at period society. Regency lovers will be enthralled. Publisher’s Weekly, May 2022


You Shouldn’t Have Come by Jeneva Rose

New Yorker Grace Evans, one narrator of this intriguing thriller from Rose (One of Us Is Dead), books a getaway at a remote ranch near DuBois, Wyo., to escape her high-powered banking career and relax. The other narrator is the ranch’s proprietor, Calvin Wells, who promises to keep her safe after she tells him on arrival that she had a run-in with a creepy gas station attendant en route. The good news: plenty of outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery; the bad news: little to no phone reception and no internet. Though Grace is a bit apprehensive, she shrugs it off, determined to disconnect from technology. But then her car starts acting up, folks in DuBois aren’t exactly friendly (including Calvin’s friends and family), and then the police show up looking for a young woman who was supposed to be the ranch’s most recent guest. Calvin says she never showed, and Grace believes him; the two become increasingly entangled as things go awry. A sinister undercurrent runs throughout, and while the reader is privy to each narrator’s thoughts, there are a few land mines buried along the way to the surprise ending. Rose should win new fans with this one. Publisher’s Weekly, February 2023



Beneath Cruel Waters by Jo Bassoff

Two violent deaths in the same spot 34 years apart bookend an American family horror story from the heartland. In 2018, Vivian Davidson returns to the ruin of the house in Thompsonville, Colorado, where she shot former lover Ruben Ray to death back in 1984, to hang herself. Why did she kill Ruben, and why did she wait so long after getting away with murder to kill herself? These are only the first of the many questions that torment Holt Davidson, the son who pulls himself away from his job as a firefighter in Topeka to come to her funeral after learning of his mother’s death from her best friend, police widow Joyce Brandt. It’s a small service, attended mostly by Pastor Boswell and Vivian’s fellow congregants from the First Lutheran Church. Vivian’s brother, musician Bobby Hartwick, isn’t there because he’s playing on the road somewhere, and Holt’s older sister, Ophelia Davidson, isn’t there because she’s staying in a halfway house after long years of institutionalization following a breakdown. Looking through his mother’s house in search of answers, Holt finds several things—a handgun, a Polaroid shot of the dead Ruben, an unsigned love letter—that raise even more questions, and he sets out in dogged pursuit of the truth. Each damning new confession he wrings from the people connected to the two fatalities attempts to paper over the even more shocking revelations to come, and each of these revelations brings new grief. No wonder Holt tells Joyce: “I should stop digging. Before it’s too late.” But it’s already too late. A powerful family melodrama drenched in sadness and guilt with hints of redemption. Kirkus Review, February 2022


Nobody from Somewhere by Dietrich Kalteis

Valor, betrayal, and bad alliances collide in this exciting crime novel set on Canada’s West Coast, from Kalteis (Under an Outlaw Moon). When scheming hustler Nikki Miller (aka Valentina) comes up with a ploy to rip off high rollers at the local casino, she sets in motion a chain of events affecting the fortunes of six disparate characters. Angel James Silva and Cooder Baio, seasoned car thief partners looking for a more lucrative con, go along with her plan and attack Park Won-Soon, a businessman Valentina has seduced, stealing his casino winnings and leaving him badly beaten. The theft backfires when the victim, backed by Chinese triad money, employs gangland enforcer Zhang Yee to recover the stolen money. Kalteis skillfully weaves in a side plot involving a 15-year-old runaway, Wren McKenna, who escapes her abusive foster home only to get caught in a more dangerous situation, and a terminally ill retired cop, Fitch Henry Haut, whose serve and protect instincts draw him into the cross fire. A brisk pace and sharp attention to character help propel this lean story of chance encounters amid a battle for survival. Fans of gritty crime fiction will be gratified. Publisher’s Weekly, March 2022



Murder on Amsterdam Avenue by Victoria Thompson

In Edgar-finalist Thompson’s solid 17th Gaslight mystery set in New York City in the late 1890s, Frank Malloy, who was fired from the NYPD in 2014’s Murder on Murray Hill after he inherited a fortune, transitions easily into work as a private eye. Frank’s bride-to-be, Sarah Brandt, lands him his first case after she pays a condolence call to the family of the late Charles Oakes, who was just appointed the superintendent of the Manhattan State Hospital, an insane asylum. Since Charles was in perfectly good health before his sudden death, his father suspects he was poisoned. Frank has a wide range of suspects to consider, both inside the family and out, and the pressure to solve the murder ratchets up when the killer strikes again. The plot is pretty formulaic, but Rhys Bowen and Anne Perry fans looking for another series featuring Victorian-era husband-wife sleuths will likely be satisfied. Publisher’s Weekly, March 2015

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