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The Missing Hours

Emma Kavanagh. Kensington, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4967-1371-1

The remote borderland between England and Wales provides the atmospheric setting for this intricately plotted crime novel from British author Kavanagh (Falling). Det. Constable Leah Mackay investigates when Selena Cole goes missing from a playground, leaving her children behind. Hours later, Selena reappears with no memory of what happened to her and blood on her sweater. Meanwhile, Det. Sgt. Finn Hale, Leah’s brother, looks into the murder of defense lawyer Dominic Lowell, whose body was found alongside a mountain road. As Lean and Finn pursue their respective cases, the officers begin to wonder if they’re linked. Selena and her late husband, Ed, owned the Cole Group—a company specializing in kidnap prevention, ransom negotiations, and rescues throughout the world—until Ed’s death in a bombing. Dominic may have been closer to members of the Cole Group than anyone has let on. Frustrated by the half-truths and omissions of Selena and those around her, Leah and Finn must examine all the Cole employees and their past missions to find a murderer. Readers will hope these sibling cops return in a sequel. Agent: Camilla Wray, Darley Anderson Literary (U.K.). (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/19/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Death of an Unsung Hero

Tessa Arlen. Minotaur, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-10144-0

In Arlen’s satisfying fourth mystery set in early-20th-century England (after 2017’s A Death by Any Other Name), Clementine Talbot, the Countess of Montfort, embarks on a controversial new venture in 1916—a hospital at her family’s Haversham Hall dedicated to treating soldiers who have returned from France with mental scars, overseen by her loyal servant, Mrs. Jackson. The phenomenon of shell shock is still not widely accepted, and Clementine encounters resistance from those who view the apparently fit men as cowards. When one of their charges, Capt. Sir Evelyn Bray, who received numerous accolades for his bravery under fire, is bludgeoned to death while working in the kitchen garden, suspicion quickly falls on another patient. Clementine and Mrs. Jackson must solve the case before the other patients suffer further psychological damage as a result of the added stress. The surprising solution will reward careful readers. The way Arlen integrates the traumas of WWI into a golden age whodunit plot will please Charles Todd fans. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/19/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Santa Fe Mourning: A Santa Fe Revival Mystery

Amanda Allen. Crooked Lane, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-68331-547-6

Set in 1922, this auspicious series launch from the pseudonymous Allen (the Kate Haywood series, as Amanda Carmack) introduces Madeline “Maddie” Vaughn-Alwin, an artist and war widow who has turned her back on her wealthy New York family for the beauty and freedom of Santa Fe, N.Mex. Soon after settling in, Maddie hires Juanita and Tomas Anaya, a married couple, to help around her new house. When Tomas’s bloody body is found in an alley behind La Fonda, the city’s foremost hotel, the police arrest the Anayas’ rebellious 14-year-old son, Eddie, for his father’s murder. Convinced of Eddie’s innocence, Maddie turns amateur sleuth to prove it. Maddie’s detecting takes her all over town, from poor neighborhoods to posh nightclubs and even the largely forgotten underground tunnels linking plaza stores. Along the way, she meets such real-life locals as Olive Rush, a patron of Native American artists, and railroad magnate Frank Springer. Readers will want to see more of the appealing Maddie, whose next adventure is hinted at in the epilogue. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/19/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Bloody Scotland

Edited by James Crawford. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (284p) ISBN 978-1-68177-654-5

The dozen entries in this fine anthology of original crime stories edited by Crawford (Fallen Glory) all feature actual Scottish landmarks, from castles to weaving mills. Highlights include Val McDermid’s “Ancient and Modern,” a revenge tale set around a secret structure that’s the site of great love and tragedy, depending on one’s point of view, and Ann Cleeve’s “The Return,” set, as readers of her Inspector Jimmy Perez series will be pleased to discover, on the remote Shetland Islands. (Perez makes the briefest of cameos.) The story is more mythological than procedural, drawing on the connection of the islands—and the protagonist—to the old Norse gods. Perhaps the standout is Denise Mina’s “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit” (Latin for “no one provokes me with impunity”). Focused on parenting, nature, and what is beyond one’s control, this harrowing tale will leave readers feeling as gutted as the day’s fishing catch. Other notable contributors include Stuart MacBride and Christopher Brookmyre. Fans of contemporary Scottish crime fiction will be well pleased. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/19/2018 | Details & Permalink

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This Is How It Ends

Eva Dolan. Bloomsbury, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-1-63557-052-6

British crime writer Dolan (the Zigic and Ferreira series) delivers an intriguing standalone about a crime involving a London police official’s daughter and secret motives. Narrator and protagonist Ella Riordan, a police academy dropout and aspiring writer, meets the novel’s second narrator, Molly Fader, a photographer who documents protest movements, when a policeman bashes Ella during a peaceful demonstration. The two, now friends united by their revolutionary spirit, join forces to protest the real estate developers taking over Molly’s apartment building in order to build more expensive high-rise buildings while the dwindling tenants put up with horrific conditions. Ella, hoping to make the place a cause célèbre to enhance her revolutionary credentials, throws a party there. Someone from Ella’s past crashes the party and ends updead by Ella’s hand—in self-defense, Ella claims to Molly. Molly believes Ella’s claim and helps her make it look like an accident. Is Ella who she says she is, or are her real intentions nefarious? The novel is cleverly plotted; Dolan nicely ramps up suspense on the way to its shocking ending. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/19/2018 | Details & Permalink

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The Big Get-Even

Paul Di Filippo. Blackstone, $26.99 (302p) ISBN 978-1-5047-8391-0

Set somewhere in the American west, this clever thriller from Di Filippo (A Palazzo in the Stars) boasts a sophisticated scam story line. Glen McClinton, who used to be a “young, high-flying legal eagle,” landed behind bars after bilking clients of millions. After his release, Glen is directionless until Stan Hasso, a fellow ex-con who might have died of a drug overdose shortly after leaving prison if Glen hadn’t been there to intervene, approaches him with a tempting proposition. Stan did time for arson after being betrayed by the man who paid him to torch buildings, real estate mogul Barnaby Nancarrow. Stan proposes a partnership with Glen to fleece Nancarrow out of $20 million by convincing Nancarrow that he should pay big bucks for a piece of land Glen owns, Bigelow Junction, because a Vegas developer is going to build a casino on it and raise its value. Complications arise when Glen’s parole officer insists that his stated intention to reopen the motor lodge on the Bigelow Junction land be backed up by actual progress. Di Filippo, best known for his science fiction, proves equally adept at crime fiction. Fans of Ocean’s Eleven will find plenty to like. Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Associates. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/19/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Warning Light

David Ricciardi. Berkley, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-399-58573-9

Zac Miller, the 28-year-old hero of Ricciardi’s gripping first novel and series launch, is on his way to Singapore when one of the engines of the passenger plane he is on fails over Iran. The plane flies into prohibited airspace and lands at an airport in the small city of Sirjan. The Iranians are extremely upset because a secret nuclear facility is just minutes from Sirjan and no Westerners should be anywhere near it. Zac, in tourist fashion, snaps several pictures on the way into the terminal, where he’s detained by security personnel. Nominally a technology consultant, Zac is really a CIA strategic weapons analyst, a substitute for the trained field agent who was supposed to be on the airliner. After several bouts of torture, Zac escapes and begins a run across land and sea, displaying plenty of resourcefulness during his dangerous journey. He eventually comes to realize that he’s more suited to a career in the field than behind a desk. Thriller fans will look forward to his further adventures. Agent: Rick Richter, Aevitas Creative Management. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 01/19/2018 | Details & Permalink

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The Elizas

Sara Shepard. Atria, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5011-6277-0

At the start of this provocative, if at times predictable, psychological thriller from bestseller Shepard (Everything We Ever Wanted), Burbank, Calif., native Eliza Fontaine wakes up in the hospital. Days before, she was fished from the bottom of a Palm Springs resort’s swimming pool in what appeared to be her latest suicide attempt. Yet this time, Eliza insists that someone pushed her. Her frustrated family suggests that she’s unwell and should check into a facility, but Eliza is certain that she knows the truth and is determined to find out who might have a reason to want her dead. Meanwhile, her debut novel, The Dots, about a young girl with a brain tumor and the glamorous aunt who cares for her, is nearing publication. But the more Eliza looks into her past, the more it’s apparent there are holes in her memory and it’s unclear how much her book of fiction is based on half-recollected history. While the shifts between Eliza’s investigation and excerpts from The Dots can be jarring, Eliza’s voice draws readers in, and her unreliable memory creates tension. Gillian Flynn fans will be satisfied. Agent: Andy McNicol, William Morris Endeavor. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 01/19/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Twenty-One Days: A Daniel Pitt Novel

Anne Perry. Ballantine, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-17988-4

Set in 1910, bestseller Perry’s series kickoff introducing attorney Daniel Pitt fails to impress, in part because Daniel, the son of the stars of the author’s Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series (Murder on the Serpentine, etc.), is a much less developed character than his parents. After managing to gain an acquittal for a client charged with murder, the inexperienced Daniel aids in the defense of historian Russell Graves, who’s on trial at London’s Old Bailey for murdering his wife, Ebony. Even though Ebony’s face and upper body were “burned to the point of total disfigurement,” their 19-year-old daughter, Sarah, was able to identify the body. When Graves is convicted, Daniel has 21 days to find exculpatory evidence before the man’s execution. In his search, he encounters a serious moral dilemma. The puzzle’s uninspired solution won’t shake the faith of Perry fans. They know that she’s quite capable of doing better. Agent: Donald Maass, Donald Maass Literary. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 01/19/2018 | Details & Permalink

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After Anna

Lisa Scottoline. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-09965-5

In this nail-biting domestic thriller from Scottoline (One Perfect Lie), prominent Pennsylvania pediatric allergist Noah Alderman, a widower, finds love again with Maggie Ippolitti. She adores his son, and they have a happy life. But everything changes when Maggie gets a call from her daughter, Anna, whom she lost custody of when the girl was six months old. Now a high school student, Anna wants to live with her. Maggie is thrilled at a second chance, and Noah is overjoyed for her. But Anna is manipulative, refuses to follow rules, and pits Maggie against Noah. Tensions mount. When Anna is murdered, Maggie is devastated. Not only is her daughter dead, but Noah is convicted of the crime. Noah claims he’s innocent, but Maggie doesn’t believe him. After Maggie receives a call from Anna’s therapist, however, she realizes things aren’t what they appear and embarks on a mission to find the truth. Filled with plenty of twists and complex characters, this entertaining story builds to a satisfying conclusion. Agent: Robert Gottlieb, Trident Media Group. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 01/19/2018 | Details & Permalink

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