Amateur Sleuths F to Z


November 4, 2018

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." Available in trade paperback. February '19. $15.95.

Fluke, Joanne. BANANA CREAM PIE. Kensington Books. February '18. $7.99. Twenty-first in the Hannah Swensen series. "A romantic seven-day cruise is the perfect start to bakery owner Hannah Swensen's marriage. However, with a murder mystery heating up in Lake Eden, Minnesota, it seems the newlywed's homecoming won't be as sweet as she anticipated... After an extravagant honeymoon, Hannah's eager to settle down in Lake Eden and turn domestic daydreams into reality. But when her mother's neighbor is discovered murdered in the condo downstairs, reality becomes a nightmarish investigation. Victoria Bascomb, once a renowned stage actress, was active in the theater community during her brief appearance in town...and made throngs of enemies along the way. Did a random intruder murder the woman as police claim, or was a deadlier scheme at play? As Hannah peels through countless suspects and some new troubles of her own, solving this crime - and living to tell about it - might prove trickier than mixing up the ultimate banana cream pie..."

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."

Harrison, Mette Ivie. FOR TIME AND ALL ETERNITIES. Soho Crime. December '17. $15.95. Third in the Linda Wallheim series. Although the Mormon Church no longer condones polygamy, some Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints still carry on the tradition. When Linda learns her son Kenneth has become engaged to a woman from a polygamous family she just can't believe it. Trying to make peace, the head of the family Kenneth is marrying into invites Linda and her husband to visit his family's compound. Linda expects the worst and believes that polygamy hurts the women and the children and should be outlawed. She has a terrible feeling that something is wrong there, but doesn't know what it is until the murdered body of a family member is found. To protect the family Linda decides to remain in the compound while the police investigate. What she has seen in the compound and the history of polygamy raises questions in her mind about her faith which is no longer very strong.

Hart, Carolyn. GHOST TIMES TWO. Berkley Books. December '17. $7.99. Seventh in the Bailey Ruth Ghost series. "Carolyn Hart - New York Times bestselling author of GHOST TO THE RESCUE - returns with a new Bailey Ruth Ghost Novel in which one woman shatters the glass ceiling...with a little help from beyond. Bailey Ruth Raeburn's latest mission is to guide the happy-go-lucky spirit of a deceased young man named Jimmy to the next life. But Jimmy is determined to watch over his still-living girlfriend, Megan, whom he wants to be happy even without him - which is easier said than done. As if being haunted by her late boyfriend wasn't enough, Megan is dealing with an arrogant, manipulative senior partner who threatens to fire Megan's vulnerable secretary if Megan accepts a partnership at another law firm. She's in an impossible bind. Since Jimmy refuses to move on while Megan is being blackmailed, Bailey Ruth agrees to help him. But after the partner turns up dead and Megan is found at the crime scene, Bailey Ruth and Jimmy have to find a way to uncover a killer before the love of Jimmy's life is ordered to spend a lifetime behind bars..."

Kovac, Christina. THE CUTAWAY: A Novel. Atria Books/37 INK. January '18. $16.00. In her debut, author Christina Kovac introduces TV news producer Virginia Knightly who becomes involved in a cover-up and corruption as she investigates the disappearance of Georgetown lawyer last seen at a restaurant after a domestic arguement. Although her colleagues disagree, Virginia thinks the lawyer might be at the center of a big story. Her investigation pulls her deep into the dark side of Washington, DC business and politics and puts her life in danger.

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.

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."

Pullen, Rick. THE APPRENTICE. Blair House. December '17. $14.99. As an inexperienced reporter, Tish Woodward finds herself in trouble when she ends up investigating the president-elect following an assassination. Forced to learn to navigate the ins and outs of the political scene in Washington, she finds it difficult to fit in and acknowledge all the ugliness behind government politics. The situation becomes especially dangerous when she accidentally learns who the assassin is and must stay alive in order to write the story.

Shelton, Connie. SPELLBOUND SWEETS: A Samantha Sweet Halloween Novella. Secret Staircase Books. December '17. $9.99. A Samantha Sweet Magical Cozy Mystery. "It's Halloween, one of the busiest seasons of the year for Samantha Sweet and the crew at her pastry shop, Sweet's Sweets. After baking a zillion pumpkin cookies, ghostly cupcakes, and an all-black cake for a young witch's wedding, the gang is looking forward to a gala costume party at the neighborhood bookshop. But when one of the guests is murdered and a rare book vanishes - practically in front of their eyes - the evening takes a whole different turn and Sam finds herself in the midst of another mystery. BONUS: Includes 10 recipes from the author's personal collection."

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."

Winawer, Melodie. THE SCRIBE OF SIENA: A Novel. Touchstone. January '18. $16.00. If you liked OUTLANDER or THE PEARL EARRING, you will love this book! Part historical novel and part love story , the story transpires across centuries from the present to medieval Italy and a plot to destroy the city of Siena. The story centers on Beatrice, a well-known neurosurgeon. After her brother dies, she inherits his estate including a house in Siena, Italy. When she finds her brother's research she becomes intrigued in a conspiracy to destroy the city during the medieval ages. Among his collection are painting by fourteenth-century artist Gabriele Accorsi along with a journal. Things become even more interesting when Beatrice notices herself in one of the paintings and is unexpectedly transported to Siena in 1347, just as the Plague is about to arrive. When she meets Accorsi in person, they fall in love and must survive a political uprising as well as the Plague.

© 1996-2018 Bill Palmer.