Amateur Sleuths F to Z


September 16, 2019

Dovalpage, Teresa. DEATH COMES IN THROUGH THE KITCHEN: A Cuban Mystery. Soho Crime. February '19. $15.95. The book takes us to Havana, Cuba, in the spring of 2003 and contains Cuban recipes. A San Diego reporter named Matt travels to Havana to get married to his girlfriend Yarmila whom he met through her food blog. He begins to worry when Yarmila doesn't show up to meet him at the airport. He manages to get a ride to her apartment and finds her dead in her bathtub. Naturally, he becomes the number one suspect of the police and the secret service. Attempting to clear his name of her murder, he starts investigating to find out who killed his bride to be. As he learns more about Yarmila, he realizes how little he really knew about her and becomes involved in a "poison-laced culinary mystery."

Duncan, Elizabeth J. REMEMBERING THE DEAD: A Penny Brannigan Mystery. Crooked Lane Books. September '19. $26.99. "In award-winning author Elizabeth J. Duncan's tenth Penny Brannigan mystery set in North Wales, Canadian amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan attends a dinner party at a posh country house - where a historic chair disappears and a waiter is murdered. Artist and spa owner Penny Brannigan has been asked to organize a formal dinner to mark the centenary of the armistice that ended World War One. After dinner, the guests adjourn to the library for a private exhibition of the Black Chair, a precious piece of Welsh literary history awarded in 1917 to poet Hedd Wyn. But to the guests' shock, the newly restored bardic chair is missing. And then Penny discovers the rain-soaked body of a waiter. When Penny learns that the victim was the nephew of one of her employees, she is determined to find the killer. Meanwhile, the local police search for the Black Chair. The Prince of Wales is due to open an exhibit featuring the chair in three weeks, so time is not on their side. A visit to a nursing home to consult an ex-thief convinces Penny that the theft of the Black Chair and the waiter's murder are connected. She rushes to Dublin to consult a disagreeable antiquarian, who might know more than he lets on, and during the course of her investigation confronts a gaggle of suspicious travelers and an eccentric herbalist who seems to have something to hide. Can Penny find the chair and the culprit before she is laid to rest in the green grass of Wales?"

Jance, J.A. CRUEL INTENT. Pocket Books. August '19. $9.99. Fourth in the Ali Reynolds Series. "On the dating site, bored housewives can find romance with married men looking for sex without strings. But these 'married singles' are flirting with more than just their vows - at the heart of this salacious service, a vengeful computer hacker is playing games with people's lives...and deaths. Ex-television journalist Ali Reynolds just wants a break from excitement. In the midst of a remodel on her home, the last thing she expects is a murder investigation that will stop the construction. But when the savagely murdered body of stay-at-home mom Morgan Forester is found, Ali's contractor Bryan is the prime suspect. Bryan swears he has nothing to do with his wife's murder - but as the investigation progresses, Ali seems to be the only resident of Sedona who believes him. Determined to prove Bryan's innocence, Ali unknowingly lands herself directly in the path of a calculating killer. In a world filled with encrypted computer traps and life-threatening lies, will Ali be able to decode the actions of a ruthless man determined to destroy women - before he uses his wicked website to find her?"

Jance, J.A. HAND OF EVIL. Pocket Books. March '19. $9.99. Third in the Ali Reynolds Series. "With his hand trapped in the door of a speeding car, a man struggles to remain upright as he's dragged along a deserted stretch of San Juan Road in Phoenix's South Mountain Preserve. It's the perfect place to drive a man to his grave - literally. Starting with a crime so gruesome even prowling coyotes keep their distance from the remains, a killer begins crisscrossing the Southwest on a spree of grisly murders. A hundred miles away, Ali Reynolds is grieving. The news-casting job she once delighted in is gone - and so is the philandering husband she loved and thought she knew. When a member of the family who gave Ali a generous scholarship decades earlier suddenly asks her for a meeting, Ali wonders what it can mean. Before she can satisfy her curiosity, though, Ali receives another startling call: a friend's teenage daughter has disappeared. Ali offers to help. But in doing so, she unknowingly begins a quest that will reveal a deadly ring of secrets, at the center of which stand two undiscriminating killers. HAND OF EVIL is Jance at her best, weaving a masterful story of suspense that travels over generations, exposing two very different women with the same horrifying secret. Will Ali become a victim herself, or will she escape from a deadly deceit that no amount of security - financial or emotional - can cover up?"

Lin, Ed. 99 WAYS TO DIE. Soho Crime. September '19. $15.95. Third in the Taipei Night Market series. When a billionare who favors anti-immigration laws visits Taiwan and is kidnapped in Taipei, a media frenzy begins. Jing-nan is pulled into the fray when Peggy Lee, an old frenemy, and the man's daughter, blackmails him into helping her. But the kidnappers aren't after money - they want a memory chip that they can sell to China for a lot of money. But exactly where is the chip? Jingnan reluctantly begins an investigation, but gets into trouble with some very nasty people and just might end up as another victim.

Perry, Anne. A CHRISTMAS RETURN: A Novel. Headline Books. October '18. $9.15. "As Charlotte Pitt's grandmother Mariah Ellison finds herself investigating a long-unsolved slaying, it becomes clear that grappling with intrigue and foul play runs in the family. A festive Christmas package left on Mariah's doorstep contains an ominous present, sparking memories of a twenty-year-old murder that shattered her friendship with the victim's widow. Though the gift is a bitter reminder of that tragic time, in the spirit of the season Mariah travels to Surrey in hopes of reconciling with her estranged friend and solving the crime that drove them apart. On arrival, Mariah joins forces with the murdered man's grandson, a sleuth in his own right who's discovered promising evidence as well as a suspect. But Surrey's picturesque hills conceal dark doings and shocking revelations that could make the holiday anything but calm and bright. Decked with intrigue and trimmed with Yuletide spirit, A Christmas Return is a holiday treat wrapped in the glorious storytelling talents of the reigning master of Victorian mystery."

Shelton, Connie. ESCAPES CAN BE MURDER: A Girl and Her Dog Cozy Mystery. Eighteenth in the Charlie Parker series. Secret Staircase Books. June '19. $13.99. "Charlie and Drake are working a helicopter job in rural Maine when a man approaches and asks for their help. At first glance, it seems he's just an old man who needs to get to his son's remote cabin in the woods. But the cabin holds more secrets than Fergus McNab will admit, and it isn't until Charlie returns to Albuquerque that she discovers they may have just aided and abetted a criminal who has escaped the law back home.The secrets get twistier, the more she looks into the ten-year-old case where Rory McNab, facing a life in prison, seemed to vanish from the reach of the law. Just as Charlie is thinking she should report McNab's whereabouts, there's a murder that seems to rock the foundation of the old case. And Charlie is in handcuffs, caught in the middle."

Thompson, Victoria. MURDER ON TRINITY PLACE: A Gaslight Mystery. Berkley Books. May '19. $26.00. Twenty-second in the series. "The devil's in the details when a man is found murdered near Trinity Church in the latest installment of the national bestselling Gaslight Mystery series... The year of 1899 is drawing to a close. Frank and Sarah Malloy are getting ready to celebrate the New Year at Trinity Church when they notice Mr. Pritchard, a relative of their neighbor's behaving oddly and annoying the other revelers. Frank tries to convince Pritchard to return home with them, but the man refuses and Frank loses him in the crowd. The next morning Sarah and Frank are horrified to learn Pritchard was murdered sometime in the night, his body left on Trinity Place, the side street near the church. The police aren't too interested in the murder, and the family are concerned that the circumstances of the death will reflect badly on Pritchard's reputation. To protect the family from scandal, Nelson asks Frank to investigate. Frank and Sarah delve into Pritchard's past and realize there may have been a deadly side to the dawning of the new century."

© 1996-2019 Bill Palmer.