Amateur Sleuths A to C
A TO E
October 6, 2017
Albert, Susan Wittig. THE LAST CHANCE OLIVE RANCH. Berkley. April '17. $27.00. Twenty-fifth in the China Bayles series. "In this exciting new mystery from New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert, China Bayles fears for her husband's life as an escaped convict targets him.... Max Mantel, the killer McQuaid put away years ago, has busted out of the Huntsville prison and appears to be headed for Pecan Springs. McQuaid knows there's only one way to stop the vengeful convict - set a trap with himself as bait. China wants to stay by her husband's side and keep him from harm. But McQuaid insists that she get out of town and go to the Last Chance Olive Ranch, where she's agreed to teach a workshop on herbs. When China and her best friend arrive at the ranch, she learns the owner, Maddie Haskell, has her own troubles. She inherited the ranch and olive oil business from the late matriarch, Eliza Butler, but Eliz's nephew is contesting the will. While China throws herself into helping Maddie, McQuaid's plan backfires when Mantel executes a countermove he never saw coming. Now McQuaid's life is not the only one at stake - and this time may really be his last chance..."
Allan, Barbara. ANTIQUES FATE. Kensington Boooks. April '17. $7.99. Tenth in the Trash 'n' Treasures Series. "Brandy Borne's exceedingly eccentric mother, Vivian, has been invited to perform her one-woman interpretation of 'the Scottish play' (sometimes called Macbeth) - with different hats for different characters - at the neighboring town of Old York's annual fete. The weekend festival celebrates the quaint village's English flavor. Brandy, sensing a possible theatrical disaster, and savvy shih tzu Sushi, sensing possible doggy treats, tag along with the scene-stealing septuagenarian. As soon as they arrive in the cozy hamlet, tragedy strikes: the theater owner drops dead onstage while giving Vivian the grand tour. That wasn't in the script and before they know it, Brandy and Vivian are entangled in a progressively perilous murder plot. Besides the cream teas and Chippendale chairs, it seems there are skeletons lurking among Old York's charming pubs and enticing antiques stalls.... When a second victim turns up mysteriously murdered, the dynamic duo knows they've got to step into the spotlight. But the remorseless killer seems to be well rehearsed for the Borne girls..and won't leave even the smallest detail of their demise to fete! Don't miss Brandy Borne's tips on antiques fairs!"
Andrews, Donna. HOW THE FINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS!: A Meg Langslow Mystery. Minotaur Books. October '17. $25.99. Twenty-second in the series. From the publisher: "New York Times bestselling author Donna Andrews takes us home to Caerphilly for the holidays in her new hilarious Christmas mystery HOW THE FINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! Meg's husband has decided to escalate his one-man show of Dickens' A Christmas Carol into a full-scale production with a large cast including their sons Jamie and Josh as Tiny Tim and young Scrooge and Meg helping as stage manager. The show must go on, even if the famous - though slightly over-the-hill-actor who's come to town to play the starring role of Scrooge has brought a sleigh-load of baggage and enemies with him. And why is Caerphilly suddenly overrun with a surplus of beautiful caged finches? HOW THE FINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! is guaranteed to put the 'ho ho hos' into the holidays of cozy lovers everywhere with its gut-bustingly funny mystery."
Barron, Stephanie. JANE AND THE WATERLOO MAP. Soho Crime. January '17. $16.95. Thirteenth in the the wonderful Jane Austen Regency Era series. It's November, 1815 and after the Battle of Waterloo the economy of the British Empire is tanking. The well known banker Henry Austen is being forced to declare bankruptcy pulling his family down with him. Henry's health begins to suffer and Jane immediately goes to visit. During her visit the Prince Regent's chaplain invites Jane to the Prince's London home, Carlton House. A fan of her books, the chaplain wants her to dedicate her next novel to His Royal Highness. While touring the house Jane finds Colonel MacFarland, a hero and friend of Wellington dying in the Regent's library. As he dies he whispers the words 'Waterloo map' sending Jane on a treasure hunt and on the trail of a killer.
Brier, Bill A. THE KILLER WHO HATED SOUP. Black Opal Books. October '17. $14.99. First in the Killer Who series. Set in 1950s, amateur sleuth Bucky Ontario does not have the advantage of a computer, the internet, or cell phones - he has to work the old fashioned way! In an attempt to make a name for himself, Bucky heads to Defiance, Oklahoma - a town who doesn't seem to mind murders or mayhem. He starts off working in a grocery store, but intends to work his way up. His next stop is as a car salesman. Things get interesting when he tries to help a friend find a ring that belonged to her deceased mother and becomes involved in solving a double murder while also investigating what could be buried in the trunk of a car in a time capsule.
Bowen, Rhys. AWAY IN A MANGER. St. Martin's Griffin. November '16. $15.99. Fifteenth in the Molly Murphy series. "It's Christmastime in 1905 New York City, and for once, Molly Murphy Sullivan is looking forward to the approaching holidays. She has a family of her own now: she and Daniel have a baby son and twelve-year-old Bridie is living with them as their ward. As Molly and the children listen to carolers in the street, they hear a lovely voice, the voice of an angel, and see a beggar girl huddled in a doorway, singing 'Away in a Manger.' Bridie is touched by the girl's ragged clothes and wants to help her out if they can. They give her a quarter, only to watch a bigger boy take it from her. But Molly discovers the boy is the girl's older brother. They've come from England and their mother has disappeared, and they're living with an aunt who mistreats them terribly. Molly quickly realizes that these children are not the usual city waifs. They are well-spoken and clearly used to better things. So who are they? And what's happened to their mother? As Molly looks for a way to help the children and for the answers to these questions, she gets drawn into an investigation that will take her up to the highest levels of New York society. This is another compelling and richly drawn mystery from New York Times bestseller Rhys Bowen."
Bowen, Rhys. CROWNED AND DANGEROUS. Berkley Books. August '17. $7.99. Tenth in the Royal Spyness series. "Nothing is simple when you're thirty-fifth in line for the British crown, least of all marriage. But with love on their side, and plans to elope, Lady Georgiana Rannoch and her beau Darcy O'Mara hope to bypass a few royal rules... With Darcy driving me out of London in a borrowed motor car, I soon discover that he isn't planning to introduce me to the pleasures of sinning in secret - as I had hoped - but to make me his wife! Of course, there are some quibbles to be dealt with, such as my needing special permission from the King to marry a Roman Catholic and the question of where we might live after the honeymoon. Though he will inherit a title, Darcy is as broke as I am. Even his family's Irish castle has been sold to a rich American who now employes Darcy's father as a hired hand. Throwing these cares to the wind, nothing could deter us from our mission - except perhaps the news that my future father-in-law has just been arrested. It seems the rich American was murdered and Darcy's father had more than enough motive to do the deed. With the elopement postponed, we head for Ireland where he insists he's innocent, and it's up to us to prove it - for better or worse. Available on audio CD from Brilliance Audio.
Bowen, Rhys. ON HER MAJESTY'S FRIGHTFULLY SECRET SERVICE. Berkley Books. August '17. $26.00. Eleventh in the Royal Spyness series. "...Lady Georgiana Rannoch juggles secret missions from the Queen, Darcy, and her mother. But it's all in a day's work when you're thirty-fifth in line to the British Crown. When Darcy runs off on another secret assignment, I am left to figure out how to travel to Italy sans maid and chaperone to help my dear friend Belinda, as she awaits the birth of her baby alone. An opportunity presents itself in a most unexpected way - my cousin the queen is in need of a spy to attend a house party in the Italian lake country. The Prince of Wales and the dreadful Mrs. Simpson have been invited, and Her Majesty is anxious to thwart a possible secret wedding. What luck! A chance to see Belinda and please the queen as I seek her permission to relinquish my claim to the throne so I can marry Darcy. Only that's as far as my good fortune takes me. I soon discover that Mummy is attending the villa party and she has her own secret task for me. Then, Darcy shows up and tells me that the fate of a world on the brink of war could very well depend on what I overhear at dinner! I shouldn't be all that surprised when one of my fellow guests is murdered and my Italian holiday becomes a nightmare...."
Bowen, Rhys. TIME OF FOG AND FIRE. Minotaur Books. February '17. $14.99. Sixteenth in the Molly Murphy series. "Molly Murphy Sullivan's husband Daniel, a police captain in turn-of-the-century New York City, is in a precarious position. The new police commissioner wants him off the force altogether. So when Daniel's offered an assignment from John Wilkie, head of the secret service, he's eager to accept. Molly can't draw any details of the assignment out of him, even where he'll be working. But when she spots him in San Francisco during a movie news segment, she starts to wonder if he's in even more danger than she had first believed. And then she receives a strange and cryptic letter from him, leading her to conclude that he wants her to join him in San Francisco. Molly knows that if Daniel's turning to her rather than John Wilkie or his contacts in the police force, something must have gone terribly wrong. What can she do for him that the police can't? Especially when she doesn't even know what his assignment is? Embarking on a cross-country journey with her young son, Molly can't fathom what's in store for her, but she knows it might be dangerous - in fact, it might put all of their lives at risk."
Brown, Rita Mae. A HISS BEFORE DYING: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery. Bantam Books. June '17. $27.00. Twenty-sixth in the series. "Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown are back chasing mystery with their unique circle of Southern sleuths. And though the changing colors of fall are a beauty to behold, this year the scattered leaves hide a grim surprise. Autumn is in the air in the Blue Ridge Mountain community of Crozet, Virginia - and all the traditions of the changing seasons are under way. Mary Minor 'Harry' Haristeen cleans her cupboards, her husband, Fair, prepares the horses for the shorter days ahead, and the clamorous barking of beagles signals the annual rabbit chase through the central Virginia hills. But the last thing the local beaglers and their hounds expect to flush out is a dead body. Disturbingly, it's a the second corpse to turn up, after that of a missing truck driver too disfigured to identify. The deaths seem unrelated - until Harry picks up a trail of clues dating back to the state's post-Revolutionary past. The echoes of the Shot Heard Round the World pale in comparison to the dangerous shootout Harry narrowly escapes unscathed. Next time, it may be the killer who gets lucky. But not if Harry's furry friends Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tucker can help it. Lending their sharp-nosed talents to the hunt, they'll help their mistress keep more lives from being lost - and right an injustice buried since the early days of America's independence."
Childs, Laura. DEVONSHIRE SCREAM. Berkley Books. March '17. $7.99. Seventeenth in the Tea Shop Mystery series. "The New York Times bestselling author of Ming Tea Murder serves up heists, homicides, and herbal blends in the latest in the Tea Shop mysteries. Catering a high-class trunk show at Heart's Desire Jewelry is a shining achievement for Theodosia and the Indigo Tea Shop. After all, a slew of jewelers, museums, and private collectors will be there to showcase their wares and sip some of Theo's best blends. But just as Theo settles in to enjoy the fruits of her labor, the party is crashed by a gang of masked muggers who steal the precious gems and jewels on display. The thieves disappear almost as quickly as they arrived, leaving shattered glass, scattered gemstones, and a dead body in their wake. Although the last thing Theo wants is to get involved, she can't help but intercede when her dear friend Brooke, aunt of the victim and owner of Heart's Desire, begs for help in figuring out who committed the brutal burglary. Though the FBI believes this daring 'smash and grab' is the work of an international gang of jewel thieves, Theo is convinced that the felon is someone much closer to home.... INCLUDES RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!"
Childs, Laura. EGG DROP DEAD. Berkley Books. December '16. $26.00. Seventh in the Cackleberry Club Mystery Series. "In Laura Childs's New York Times bestselling mystery series, Suzanne, Petra, and Toni - co-owners of the Cackleberry Club Cafe - are back to track down another bad egg... Maintaining good personal relationships with their suppliers is one of the secrets of the Cackleberry Club Cafe's success, so Suzanne doesn't mind going out to Mike Mullen's dairy farm to pick up some wheels of cheese. She's looking forward to a nice visit with the mild-mannered farmer before heading back to their hectic kitchen. But when she arrives, Mike's nowhere to be found. The moaning of his cows leads her to look in the barn, where she discovers a bloodcurdling sight - the farmer's dead body. Apparently not everyone was as fond of Mike Mullen as the Cackleberry Club. Churning with grief and outrage, Suzanne, Petra, and Toni vow to find the farmer's murderer - but as they get closer to the truth, the desperate killer gets whipped into a frenzy and plans to put the squeeze on them.... RECIPES INCLUDED!" Available in paperback. December '17. $7.99.
Childs, Laura. PEKOE MOST POISON. Berkley Books. March '17. $26.00. Eighteenth in the Tea Shop series. "In the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs, Theodosia Browning attends a 'Rat Tea,' where the mice will play...at murder. When Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is invited by Doreen Briggs, one of Charleston’s most prominent hostesses, to a 'Rat Tea,' she is understandably intrigued. As servers dressed in rodent costumes and wearing white gloves offer elegant finger sandwiches and fine teas, Theo learns these parties date back to early twentieth-century Charleston, where the cream of society would sponsor so-called rat teas to promote city rodent control and better public health. But this party goes from odd to chaotic when a fire starts at one of the tables and Doreen's entrepreneur husband suddenly goes into convulsions and drops dead. Has his favorite orange pekoe tea been poisoned? Theo smells a rat. The distraught Doreen soon engages Theo to pursue a discreet inquiry into who might have murdered her husband. As Theo and her tea sommelier review the guest list for suspects, they soon find themselves drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse... INCLUDES RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS." Available in paperback. February '18. $7.99.
Clark, Mary Higgins. ALL BY MYSELF, ALONE: A Novel. Simon & Schuster. April '17. $26.99. "Fleeing a disastrous and humiliating arrest of her husband-to-be on the eve of their wedding, Celia Kilbride, a gems and jewelry expert, hopes to escape from public attention by lecturing on a brand-new cruise ship - the Queen Charlotte. On board she meets eighty-six-year-old Lady Emily Haywood, 'Lady Em,' as she is known throughout the world. Immensely wealthy, Lady Em is the owner of a priceless emerald necklace that she intends to leave to the Smithsonian after the cruise. Three days out to sea Lady Em is found dead - and the necklace is missing. Is it the work of her apparently devoted assistant, Brenda Martin, or her lawyer-executor, Roger Pearson, and his wife, Yvonne, both of whom she had invited to join them on the cruise? Or is it Professor Henry Longworth, an acclaimed Shakespeare scholar who is lecturing on board? Or Alan Davidson, a guest on the ship who is planning to spread his wife's ashes at sea? The list of suspects is large and growing. Celia, with the help of her new friends Willy and Alvirah Meehan, who are celebrating their forty-fifth wedding anniversary, sets out to find the killer, not realizing that she has put herself in mortal danger before the ship reaches its final destination." Available in paperback. $8.40.
Cohen, Nancy J. FACIALS CAN BE FATAL. Five Star. March '17. $25.95. Thirteenth in the Bad Hair Day series. "During the frenzy of the December holidays, the last thing salon owner Marla Vail needs is a dead body slathered in a green facial mask at her new day spa. The victim, Valerie Weston, was a major donor for Friends of Old Florida, a historic building preservation society. Marla's stylists are scheduled to work backstage at their upcoming gala fashion show, but Val's demise might put a crimp in their plans. Hoping to salvage her reputation, Marla determines to track down the suspects. As she learns more about Val, she realizes the benefactress might have stumbled onto secrets others would kill to keep. She'd better prepare for a body count that has nothing to do with hot stone massages and everything to do with murder."
Cohen, Nancy J. HAIR BRAINED. Orange Grove Press. September '17. $14.99. Fourteenth in The Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Marla Vail is back in action in another humerous and intriguing mystery! Marla agrees to take care of her friend's baby when Tally and her husband Ken are hurt after being involved in a car accident. Things become more complicated though when Marla's husband, Detective Dalton Vail,finds that the accident was anything but an accident! Marla can't imagine why anybody would want to hurt Tally or Ken and begins an investigation of her own. Sifting through the facts, Marla begins to realize that she doesn't know her friends as well as she thought she did. Now she must find out who's behind the attack and take care of the baby before anybody else is hurt!
Cotterill, Colin. I SHOT THE BUDDHA: A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery Set In Laos. Soho Crime. July '17. $15.95. Eleventh in the Series. The good doctor and his friends become involved in investigating three murders that seem to be connected. It's 1979, and retired coroner Siri Paiboun and his wife, Madame Daeng, still share their home with several homeless people. One of the residents, a Buddhist monk named Noo, disappears one day after leaving on his bike. Their only clue is a cryptic note left in the refrigerator asking for them to help another monk flee across the Mekhong River into Thailand. As they try to help, Siri and the others find themselves in trouble with the Lao secret service and must determine who is killing in the name of religion.
Cotterill, Colin. THE RAT CATCHERS' OLYMPICS. Soho Crime. August '17. $26.95. Twelfth in the Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery Series. The retired coroner of Laos is at it again in another engaging story as the good doctor manages to get hired as the medical advisor to the 1980 Olympics being held in Moscow. Since many countries are boycotting the games in protest of the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, the Democratic People's Republic of Laos is thrilled to get the chance to enter the games for the very first time! Team Laos consists of young athletes who have never even worn running shoes and are in awe of the Olympic Village. When the games begin, however, Siri begins to suspect that one of the athletes is not what he's supposed to be and begins to investigate with the help of his loyal band of friends. Siri contacts Inspector Phosy and asks him to find out about the athlete and see if he could be an assassin. Things become even more complicated when one of the Laos team members is accused of murder and Siri must prove him innocent.
© 1996-2017 Bill Palmer.