Amateur Sleuths I to Z


May 4, 2023

Phillips, Gary. ONE-SHOT HARRY. Soho Crime. March '23. $16.95. "Race and civil rights in 1963 Los Angeles provide a powerful backdrop in Gary Phillips's riveting historical crime novel about an African American forensic photographer seeking justice for a friend. LOS ANGELES, 1963: African American Korean War veteran Harry Ingram earns a living as a news photographer and occasional process server: chasing police radio calls and dodging baseball bats. With racial tensions running high on the eve of Martin Luther King's Freedom Rally, Ingram risks becoming a victim at every crime scene he photographs. When Ingram hears about a deadly automobile accident on his police scanner, he recognizes the vehicle described as belonging to his good friend and old army buddy, a white jazz trumpeter. The LAPD declares the car crash an accident, but when Ingram develops his photos, he sees signs of foul play. Ingram feels compelled to play detective, even if it means putting his own life on the line. Armed with his wits, his camera, and occasionally his Colt .45, 'One-Shot' Harry plunges headfirst into the seamy underbelly of LA society, tangling with racists, leftists, gangsters, zealots, and lovers, all in the hope of finding something resembling justice for a friend. Master storyteller and crime fiction legend Gary Phillips has filled the pages of ONE-SHOT HARRY with fascinating historical cameos, wise-cracks, tenderness, and an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride of a plot with consequences far beyond one dead body."

Priest, Cherie. GRAVE RESERVATIONS: A Novel. Atria Books. July '22. $17.00. Leda Foley, a travel agent trying to get her company, Foley's Flights of Fancy, into the black is also a sometime psychic. Not sure why, she changes Seattle Police Detective Grady Merritt's flight and ends up saving his life when the plane he was supposed to be on blows up. Grady, believing that Leda does have some abilities, asks her to help him on a cold case he was never able to solve. Leda agrees, partly because her fiance was murdered several years prior and she wasn't able to help and that case was never solved either. She enlists some bar patrons and friends to help solve Grady's case. As they work together they realize that the two cases have a lot in common.

Ramsland, Katherine. I SCREAM MAN: The Nut Cracker Investigations. Level Best Books. September '22. $17.95. "When a boy vanishes under strange circumstances, forensic psychologist Annie Hunter collects her team of sleuths, the Nut Crackers. They link the boy to a network of powerful people, the 'I Scream Men,' who gain political favors through a juvenile sex trafficking ring. As Annie tries to hide a victim they seek to silence, head predator Alder Plattman - nicknamed 'Plat-eye' - snatches her young daughter. Relying on coded clues, some quirky allies, and the mysterious method of remote viewing, Annie sets out to rescue her daughter and cripple the criminal network. Among her associates is attorney Jackson Raines, a youth advocate whose brother stole the network's secret records before he was murdered. As a hurricane bears down and Plattman chases Annie's team, they race to recover this vital cache before he can find and destroy it."

Shelton, Connie. ROAD TRIPS CAN BE MURDER!: A Girl and Her Dog Cozy Mystery. Secret Staircase Books. March '23. $13.99. A Charlie Parker Mystery. From the author: "As the story goes, Charlie receives an assignment to drive a teen runaway girl back to her home in Arizona. It's about a six hour drive each way, and all she has to do is deliver the girl to her mother, enjoy a night in a nice hotel, turn around and drive back. She'll be home in plenty of time to bake the Thanksgiving pies with Elsa and settle into the holiday season back in Albuquerque. Or not. From the get-go, nothing goes right. Traffic is horrible, bad weather is moving in, and the hotel is a dump. Basically, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong, and the quick job turns into a stress-filled trip, including a murder. On the bright side, Charlie meets a group of five Arizona women who have a bit of experience at the mystery game themselves. Yes! Charlie and the Heist Ladies are working together on this one. You'll want to ride along when Charlie discovers that ROAD TRIPS CAN BE MURDER!"

Shelton, Connie. TRICKY SWEET: A Sweet's Sweets Bakery Mystery. Secret Staircase Books. October '22. $13.99. From the author: "When three college kids arrive at Taos Ski Valley in the midst of a late spring snowstorm, they're more lost than they think they are, and the elderly couple who invite them are more devious than they appear. The remote location has no cell service, no internet, and a huge new storm is on the way. What starts out as a harmless joke, gets tricky right away. Sam and her daughter Kelly are enlisted to find the boys when Kelly gets the call from an old friend. Her brother and his friends have been unreachable for days now, and she needs to get word to him that their mother is in grave condition. He'll need to cut the trip short and get home to California. But the sheriff has already checked out their destination rental, and there's been no sign of them. Simply no trace at all. Sheriff Evan doesn't have the resources to go hunting for guys who may have simply changed their travel plans and not come to New Mexico at all. But when Sam and Kelly begin to receive clues, via the magical book of runes, they know they need to follow up and find out what happened."

© 1996-2023 Bill Palmer.