Amateur Sleuths F to Z


February 9, 2019

Dawson, Janet. THE GHOST IN ROOMETTE FOUR: A California Zephyr Mystery. Perseverance Press. April '18. $15.95. Third in the series. "It's almost midnight on the sleek streamliner known as the California Zephyr, en route from Oakland to Chicago in 1953. Heading for her quarters, Zephyrette Jill McLeod walks through the Silver Gorge Pullman car, and sees something she can't explain. Is the shimmering light a ghost? Jill doubts the evidence of her own eyes, but soon learns that others have seen the phenomenon, too. Whatever-whoever-is haunting roomette four may be connected to an incident two months earlier, when Jill found the body of a young man there. The verdict on the death was natural causes. Now it looks like the unquiet spirit is pointing to murder. Several years ago Dawson took a trip on the Pacific Sands, a privately owned Pullman car. The owner told stories about a roomette on the car that was supposedly haunted. Passengers would tell about hearing voices during the night, and the porters who worked trips talked about the porter call button in the roomette ringing. When the porter answered the bell, no one was there. As a mystery writer, anything and everything was grist for the mill. As a matter of fact, the roomette on the Pacific Sands was number four."

Dovalpage, Teresa. DEATH COMES IN THROUGH THE KITCHEN: A Cuban Mystery. Soho Crime. March '18. $25.95. 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." Trade paperback edition. February '19. $15.95.

Hall, Parnell. THE PURLOINED PUZZLE. Minotaur Books. March '18. $25.99. Nineteenth in the Puzzle Lady Series. "When the obnoxious sixteen-year-old Peggy Dawson asks Cora Felton to solve a puzzle for her, Cora is delighted to find that the puzzle has been stolen. She is less delighted, however, when a blood-stained knife is found in its place. Soon a body is discovered in the middle of Main Street, and Cora has a murder investigation on her hands. It does not help matters when she hears that her least favorite ex-husband, Melvin, is in town pulling a real estate scam, particularly when she discovers that Melvin may have purchased the knife. Now it's up to the Puzzle Lady to figure out what really happened."

Lin, Ed. 99 WAYS TO DIE. Soho Crime. October '18. $26.95. 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. Available in paperback. September '19. $15.95.

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. STICKY SWEET. Secret Staircase Books. June '18. $13.99. Twelfth in the Samantha Sweet series. "Breaking into another house, creating chocolates worth $200 a box, and helping her sheriff husband solve a traffic accident-turned-murder...Samantha Sweet has her hands more than a little full as the new year begins. It's the beginning of a new year at Sweet's Sweets pastry shop and chocolate factory, and Samantha Sweet finds herself busy as ever, especially when her top client comes in with a new idea. His travel firm is selling a new Travel the World itinerary for the jet-set, and Sam is to come up with special chocolates to make the spectacular trip even more memorable for his wealthy clientele. At $200 a box, she can't exactly say no. Things get a little sticky when a friend calls with a problem, which involves Sam going back to her old job (temporarily, at least) of breaking into houses. How she manages to juggle it all...well, it just might involve a little magic. Meanwhile, Beau answers the call to a traffic fatality that turns way more complex when he realizes he has a murder to solve. The couple's paths cross less frequently than they would like, but as luck would have it, Sam ends up providing some of the critical clues in Beau's case and the answers come as a surprise to both of them."

© 1996-2019 Bill Palmer.