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Lethal Legacies: A Washington Whodunit

Colleen J. Shogan. Camel, $16.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-6849-2030-3

In Shogan’s earnest eighth Washington whodunit (after 2021’s Dead as a Duck), Chief of Staff Kit Marshall is left in charge when her boss, Congresswoman Maeve Dixon, leaves Washington, D.C., for a campaign tour. In particular, Kit has agreed to oversee the Spring into History exhibition, a multiday series of events highlighting U.S. history. Kit has been bumping heads with the unpleasant director of the Capitol Visitor’s Center, Bev Taylor, who has some inflexible opinions and doesn’t hesitate to inflict them on bystanders. So when Bev is stabbed and her body laid out on the Lincoln catafalque like one of the historical displays, there are plenty of potential suspects. But when Trevor, a dear friend of Kit’s, becomes the prime suspect, she must put all her considerable sleuthing skills in play to clear him of the deed, especially after Trevor’s own boss becomes the second victim of a vicious murderer. Shogan’s richly detailed glimpse into the workings and history of Washington is this one’s main draw. Agent: Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/03/2022 | Details & Permalink

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What She Found

Robert Dugoni. Thomas & Mercer, $15.95 trade paper (366p) ISBN 978-1-5420-0832-7

Bestseller Dugoni’s first-rate ninth police procedural featuring Tracy Crosswhite (after 2021’s In Her Tracks) hands the Seattle homicide detective a cold case with threatening professional and personal implications. Twenty-five years earlier, newspaper reporter Lisa Childress vanished after going to meet an anonymous informant in a deserted parking lot. Now, Tracy is approached by Lisa’s daughter with a plea to look into the files again. Tracy, moved by her devotion to her own family, accepts the daunting task of finding the missing woman. When Tracy examines the cases Lisa was investigating, she becomes increasingly uneasy at how the criminal activities of a rogue unit of the police could connect with Tracy’s own dearest friends and most trusted mentors in the department. Even when the mystery of Lisa’s disappearance is miraculously resolved, it’s clear that no one is going to come out of this investigation untested or unscathed. Dugoni convincingly details Tracy’s methodical but creative approach to this tangle of guilt and denial, as well as showing her empathy for the people involved. Readers will eagerly await Tracy’s next outing. Agents: Rebecca Scherer and Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/03/2022 | Details & Permalink

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Jewish Noir II

Edited by Kenneth Wishnia and Chantelle Aimée Osman. PM, $17.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-62963-822-5

The 23 entries in Wishnia and Osman’s superior follow-up to 2015’s Jewish Noir showcase a wide range of settings and plots linked by Jewish characters and themes. One highlight is Doug Allyn’s ironically titled “Sanctuary,” which gives new life to the trope of a war veteran returning stateside only to find himself still haunted by demons. Jake Abrams enlisted after Pearl Harbor, only to face unimaginable horror as part of the army liberating Buchenwald. But his efforts to recover some normalcy when he moves near Lake Michigan are challenged almost immediately by antisemitic neighbors. Wishnia himself impresses with “Bride of Torches,” set in “the days of the chieftains, when there was no king over Israel and every man did as he pleased,” and featuring an arguably justifiable murder, recounted much differently than in the Book of Judges. The standout is Jill D. Block’s “Wishboned,” narrated by bar mitzvah boy Solomon Felder, whose rite of passage is turned into a showcase for his family’s wealth and ends in fantastic violence. The judiciously chosen selections will make fans of quality short crime fiction hope for a third volume. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/03/2022 | Details & Permalink

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The Girl in the Yellow Dress

Jane A. Adams. Severn, $29.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7278-5096-6

Adams’s moody eighth Henry Johnstone mystery (after 2021’s Bright Young Things) opens in 1930 as career criminal Brady Brewer is hanged for the murder of Sarah Downham. Brewer’s guilt seems beyond question, yet he dies loudly protesting his innocence. Barely a month later, a second young woman is murdered a mile from where Sarah was found. A copycat killing? Or was Brewer actually innocent of the first crime? Det. Chief Insp. Henry Johnstone and Sgt. Mickey Hitchens head to Leicestershire to assist Insp. James Walker, who arrested Brewer for Sarah’s murder and now leads the investigation into the latest death. After reviewing the evidence, the detectives find that as wicked as Brewer was, he may have been hanged for a murder he didn’t commit. The mystery is properly twisty and the English countryside beautifully atmospheric, but the story’s greatest strength is the relationships between the detectives. Johnstone is spiky and irritable, his longtime partner, Hitchens, is his caring conscience. Walker is miffed by Scotland Yard’s interference, yet worried that his antipathy for Brewer caused a rush to judgement. Lovers of tweedy English murder mysteries will find much to like. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/03/2022 | Details & Permalink

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Round Up the Usual Peacocks: A Meg Langslow Mystery

Donna Andrews. Minotaur, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-76020-3

Bestseller Andrews’s enjoyable 31st Meg Langslow mystery (after 2021’s The Twelve Jays of Christmas) finds blacksmith Meg, a bridesmaid at her brother Rob’s upcoming wedding, tasked with, among many other things, obtaining nonmolting peacocks to grace the reception. Meg’s relieved to delegate bridal chores when she gets the opportunity to revert to her amateur sleuth role and focus on why a Virginia Crime Time podcaster was almost the victim of a hit-and-run after discussing two local cold cases: a 26-year-old cheating scandal at Caerphilly College’s business school that led to a professor’s death by suicide and a talented singer’s decades-old disappearance. Unsure which case triggered the attack, Meg investigates both. It soon becomes clear that someone doesn’t want Meg snooping about in the past, but is it the B-school blackmailer or the person who silenced the singer? Meg must rely on her wits; her Caerphilly, Va., work connections; and a multitude of relatives to unravel the twisted web of lies surrounding each mystery. Quirky characters match the madcap plot. Readers seeking whopping good escapism will be satisfied. Agent: Ellen Geiger, Frances Goldin Literary. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/03/2022 | Details & Permalink

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The Shadow Lily

Johanna Mo, trans. from the Swedish by Alice Menzies. Penguin, $17 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-1431-3669-9

Set on the Swedish island of Öland, Mo’s plodding sequel to 2020’s The Night Singer follows police detective Hanna Duncker and her partner, Erik Lindgren, as they investigate the sudden disappearance of a troubled local, Thomas Ahlström, and his baby son, Hugo. Ahlström is eventually discovered to have been murdered, yet Hugo remains missing. Among the many suspects are Ahlström’s daughter, Lykke, whom he abandoned in infancy; his ne’er-do-well friend, Mille Bergman; his suspicious real estate agency boss, Karl Friberg; and Friberg’s nervous daughter, Selene. Intertwined with the story are Duncker’s own troubles—in particular, her father’s conviction of a murder she doesn’t believe he committed. Meanwhile, Lindgren feels anxious about his Indian wife’s return from her home country with their young child. Duncker and Lindgren, both admirable professionals, encounter a surfeit of false leads as they methodically go about their work. Some mystery readers will struggle to stay engaged, especially as unresolved backstories fill half the book. Fans of realistic, detail-oriented police procedurals will best appreciate this one. Agent: Kaisa Palo, Ahlander Agency (Sweden). (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/03/2022 | Details & Permalink

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Fox Creek

William Kent Krueger. Atria, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-1-9821-2871-5

In Edgar winner Krueger’s outstanding 19th mystery featuring PI Cork O’Connor of Minnesota’s Tamarack County (after 2021’s Lightning Strike), Cork is tending the grill at his burger joint when he’s approached by a stranger who introduces himself as Louis Morriseau. Louis wants the PI to find his wife, Dolores, who he believes is having an affair with Henry Meloux. Cork immediately knows something is wrong, because his friend Henry, an Ojibwe healer, is more than 100 years old. Henry is indeed with Dolores, who’s having a cleansing sweat under the guidance of Cork’s wife, Rainy, who’s also Henry’s great-niece. Dolores later confirms that the stranger is not her husband, Louis, who has been missing. Henry uses his highly developed sense of mysticism to lead Dolores and Rainy deep into the Boundary Waters wilderness to escape two killers pursuing the women. Meanwhile, Cork and Dolores’s brother-in-law, Anton, a tribal cop, follows the killers. Krueger skillfully blends an evocative look at nature’s beauty and peril with Native American lore. Not just regional mystery fans will be enthralled. Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Brown & Miller Literary Assoc. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/03/2022 | Details & Permalink

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On Java Road

Lawrence Osborne. Hogarth, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-0-593242-32-2

This winning mystery from Osborne (Only to Sleep: A Philip Marlowe Novel) centers on Adrian Gyle, an English journalist who, after two decades living and working in Hong Kong, has reconciled himself to his career having plateaued and to being known “vaguely as a writer of something or other, and a fairly infamous glutton, but little more than that.” Adrian flashes back to memories of the beginning and development of his closest and longest relationship. While at Clare College, Cambridge, he became close with Jimmy Tang, whose family was among Hong Kong’s wealthiest and most influential. Their paths cross again when, during demonstrations against Beijing’s policies, one of the protestors, Rebecca To, a student to whom Jimmy once introduced Adrian, disappears. With foul play suspected, Adrian turns detective to try to learn Rebecca’s fate. Osborne makes a city beset by unrest, countered by harsh repression, feel palpable, and the dynamic between two college friends of different socioeconomic backgrounds will remind many of Brideshead Revisited. Those patient enough to wait for the mystery plotline to kick in will be rewarded. Agent: Adam Eaglin, Elyse Cheney Agency. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/03/2022 | Details & Permalink

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The Couple at Number 9

Claire Douglas. Harper, $16.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-313814-8

In 2018, Saffron Cutler, one of the narrators of this intricately plotted puzzle from British author Douglas (Do Not Disturb), and her partner are enlarging the kitchen of their cottage in Beggars Nook, a quaint Cotswold village, when builders discover a human skeleton in their back garden. Further digging uncovers yet another body. Forensic evidence indicates that the two—a man and a woman—were killed sometime between 1970 and 1990, years that overlap with the period that Saffron’s grandmother, Rose Grey, occupied the house. Rose, now suffering from dementia, lives in a nursing facility. Her occasional flashes of lucidity seem to offer clues to what might have happened all those years ago. But danger isn’t confined to the past. The discovery of the bodies awakens the interest of a murderer who will do anything to protect his secrets. Tension builds as the characters’ backstories unfold through multiple perspectives, including that of one person whose relationship to the others isn’t immediately apparent. Douglas does a fine job fairly misdirecting the reader. This gripping tale is sure to garner her new fans. Agent: Jenny Bent, Bent Agency. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/03/2022 | Details & Permalink

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Stay Awake

Megan Goldin. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-28066-4

This adrenaline-fueled thriller from Goldin (The Night Swim) opens with Liv Reese waking up early one morning in a Brooklyn-bound cab, though the last thing she remembers is working her Manhattan day job. Her skin sports myriad handwritten messages, including DON’T SLEEP! I FORGET EVERYTHING WHEN I FALL ASLEEP; she has cash, but no keys, phone, or wallet; and when she buzzes the apartment she shares with her roommate, strangers answer. Her pocket contains a bloody knife, which she tosses. Hours later, Liv wakes on a park bench, though the last thing she remembers is being at work. Back at the office, the staff and decor have changed completely. When a man calls asking where she put the knife, Liv assumes it’s a wrong number—until the news reports a murder where the killer wrote WAKE UP! on a window in blood, and she panics. Goldin skillfully interweaves Liv’s tense, propulsive present-day narration with chapters following NYPD detective Darcy Halliday’s homicide investigation and flashbacks to two years earlier. Shocking twists and resourceful, well-drawn female characters keep the pages turning as the clever mystery unfolds. Goldin reliably entertains. Agent: David Gernert, Gernert Co. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/03/2022 | Details & Permalink

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