Littlejohn's Pick of the Month, Brown's Latest "Sister Jane," Driscoll, Gaddes, McDermid, Penny, Starr, Flower | Mystery & Suspense Reviews

Another intricately plotted procedural from Littlejohn; fans of Tana French and Ian Rankin will be delighted with McDermid's latest; Penny's Armand Gamache returns hardened but also hard at work; a solid debut historical mystery from Gaddes; Michaelides is dark, edgy, and compulsively readable

Brown, Rita Mae. Homeward Hound. Ballantine. (Sister Jane Foxhunting, Bk. 11). Nov. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780399178375. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399178382. M
Despite a blizzard threat, “Sister” Jane ­Arnold, Master of the Jefferson Hunt in Virginia, won’t call off the annual Christmas hunt. The presence of Gregory Luckham won’t stop it either. Luckham’s energy company has proposed running a pipeline straight through the heart of foxhunting country. And although there’s opposition from local property owners wealthy enough to sue the company, Luckham is welcomed to ride with the others. When the snowstorm hits unexpectedly, everyone except Luckham returns to their trailers. A search is mounted, but instead of Luckham, it’s a local man who’s found murdered. With the help of her friends, Sister and the town sheriff try to track down the killer. However, the most knowledgeable among the group suspect the murderer may be a member of their hunt. The list of characters in the front of the book is essential for keeping straight the names of hunters, horses, hounds, and foxes in this latest “Sister Jane” entry from best-selling author Brown (Crazy like a Fox).
VERDICT Only fans of Sister and the series will care enough to pick up this mystery. [See Prepub Alert, 4/19/18.] —Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Crosby, Ellen. Harvest of Secrets. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Wine Country, Bk. 9). Nov. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781250164834. $26.99;
ebk. ISBN 9781250164841. M
The workers at Lucie Montgomery’s ­Virginia vineyard are clearing debris from a shed destroyed during a storm when they find a skull buried outside the family cemetery. They claim it’s an omen that someone will die. Lucie discounts this, but then the rest of the skeleton is found, and the forensic anthropologist concludes that a woman was murdered. Lucie becomes emotionally involved in uncovering the victim’s story, sensing she must have been related to her. At the same time, DNA results reveal another living relative. While Lucie frets over family secrets, a neighboring winemaker stirs up trouble, just as a hurricane bears down on the region. Lucie feels pressure to find the actual killer, while concealing information she should share with loved ones. The ninth book in Crosby’s character-driven series (after The Vineyard Victims) features an introspective sleuth who struggles with her own insecurities as well as physical limitations.
VERDICT For admirers of the author’s earlier mysteries, and readers of Ellie Alexander’s Death on Tap or Joyce Tremel’s “Brewing Trouble” series.
Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Driscoll, Sara. Storm Rising. Kensington. (F.B.I. K-9, Bk. 3). Nov. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781496704450. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781496704467. M
After Hurricane Cole hits, FBI Special Agent Meg Jennings and her Labrador, Hawk, report to Virginia Beach as part of the Human Scent Evidence Team. Accompanying is Meg’s boyfriend, Todd Webb, who is responding as a firefighter/paramedic. On the way to Meg’s next location, Todd spots an overturned van. Inside are the bodies of young girls in restraints, victims of the sex trade. Meg realizes someone escaped the accident, and ignoring the dangers in searching the devastated area, she and Hawk trace the whereabouts of two girls. While the youngest recuperates, Meg and Hawk are tasked with a special assignment to find the people responsible for this sex trafficking case. Meg and the FBI soon discover connections to powerful figures profiting from the exploitation of young girls.
VERDICT Following Before It’s Too Late, Driscoll’s third thriller offers an action-packed story combining the drama of a posthurricane search and rescue with the suspenseful investigation of a human trafficking case. Suggest for readers of Margaret Mizushima’s “Timber Creek K-9” series. —Lesa Holstine,­ Evansville ­Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Eskens, Allen. The Shadows We Hide. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Nov. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780316509787. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316509763. M
Joe Talbert’s journalism career is on the line after a senator files suit over a story and Joe refuses to reveal his source. Just as Joe is forced to take a leave of absence, he receives word that his long-absent father has been murdered. Using the mystery of Joe “Toke” Talbert’s death as a distraction from his legal worries, his responsibilities for his autistic brother, and a widening distance with his girlfriend, Joe takes off to investigate the killing. While he’s not surprised to learn that Toke terrorized his neighbors, he’s shocked to learn he might now be heir to a multimillion-dollar fortune. Even more shocking, he might have to split his fortune with a half-sister, Angel, if she survives an overdose-induced coma. Joe will have to wade into the waters of family dysfunction before he can find closure.
VERDICT Featuring characters from Eskens’s debut, The Life We Bury, this title by the “Max Rupert” mysteries author begins slowly but gains momentum as the circumstances surrounding Toke’s death unravel. While the ending wraps up a little too perfectly, readers will enjoy the ride. Newcomers will be able to follow the story but may wish they had started with the first book. [See Prepub Alert, 5/14/18.] —Jennifer Beach, Longwood Univ. Lib., Farmville, VA


Gaddes, Andrew. Those Who Go by Night. Crooked Lane. Nov. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781683318408. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781683318415. M
When a body is found draped over an altar in Saint Mary’s Church in Bottesford, England, 1324, the Bishop of Lincoln sends Thomas Lester to investigate, fearing the Pope’s inquisitor general is eyeing England and hoping Lester will find the killer before the townspeople come under suspicion. By the time Lester arrives, it’s too late. Friar Justus, one of the Dominican monks called “the hounds of God,” is already there. While Lester and the local constable question people carefully, the monk hounds people until they lie, afraid they’ll be accused of witchcraft or tortured. When another murder occurs and a man is falsely accused, Lester gets entangled in a web of deceit, depravity, and superstition. Meanwhile, four women, including one in hiding, are determined to save themselves from the church’s deadly plans.
VERDICT This is a solid debut historical mystery that rebukes history’s treatment of women. Readers of Tania Bayard’s In the Presence of Evil or Jeri Westerson’s “Crispin Guest” mysteries will appreciate this new entry that delves into superstition and the power of the church in the 14th century.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Havill, Steven F. Lies Come Easy. Poisoned Pen. (Posadas County, Bk. 23). Nov. 2018. 300p. ISBN 9781464210310. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781464210341. M
Three days before Christmas, a Posadas County, NM, deputy finds a two-year-old walking his scooter alongside the highway. It won’t be a happy holiday for little Derry Fisher’s family. His father is thrown in jail and once bailed out is found shot to death in his pickup. At first it appears to be suicide, until evidence indicates otherwise. Sheriff Robert Torrez is convinced the man was murdered, as another shooting death arouses more suspicion. While Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman juggles a Christmas celebration with a surprise visit from her two sons, Torrez is determined to find the killer despite the holiday and outlandish stories told by residents of the community where the victims lived. Havill follows Easy Errors with a character-driven police procedural that combines a step-by-step murder investigation with the heartwarming reunion of the Reyes-Guzman family.
VERDICT This compelling novel contrasts the loving family and community life shared by Reyes-Guzman and her retired mentor, Sheriff Bill Gastner, with the troubled lives led by victims and criminals in the county. Series devotees will eagerly welcome this latest installment.
Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Katchur, Karen. River Bodies. Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. (Northampton County, Bk. 1). Nov. 2018. 324p. ISBN 9781503902398. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781503900639. $15.95. M
A man is shot and field-dressed, his blood-smeared remains left hanging in the woods like a gutted deer. Newly promoted detective Parker Reed knows he’s been appointed lead in the case because he grew up in Portland, PA, and people there don’t talk to strangers. It’ll be hard going but at least there’s a chance he’ll discover what happened. A similar killing that occurred 20 years earlier suggests the murders might be connected. Becka Kingsley has returned to Portland because her police chief father, who investigated the earlier murder, is dying. Discovering a clue that could unravel the second crime, she hides it from the police because it would expose someone she cares for. The story shuttles back and forth between the past and present and involves a motorcycle gang enforcer who protected Becka when she was younger. In the end, Becka learns difficult things about her father, as tensions build steadily to a conclusion that doesn’t quite live up to the suspense.
VERDICT Katchur (The Sisters of Blue Mountain) has written an engaging, solid mystery that will captivate lovers of the genre, especially those drawn to regional settings.—David Keymer, Cleveland

McDermid, Val. Broken Ground. Atlantic Monthly. (Karen Pirie, Bk. 5). Dec. 2018. 432p. ISBN 9780802129123. $26. thriller
Alice Summerville and her husband travel to the Scottish Highlands in search of a legacy buried by her grandfather at the end of World War II and bequeathed to her just before his death. Aided by the property owner, they ascertain the exact location and dig into a peat bog, unearthing both the treasure and a corpse. When it’s determined that the body was buried long after the end of the war, DCI Karen Pirie, head of the Historical Crimes Unit of the Edinburgh Police, is called in to catch a killer on the loose for nearly 20 years. While seeking justice for this murder, Karen must also deal with a superior with an ax to grind who has planted a mole in the unit, a cold case involving a serial rapist, and an overheard conversation that may lead to a fresh crime—all while grieving the loss of her partner.
VERDICT Prolific author McDermid (Out of Bounds) has crafted a tight police procedural with a strong female lead. While this is number five in the series, newcomers are brought up to speed. Fans of Tana French and Ian Rankin will be delighted. [See Prepub Alert, 6/10/18.] —Susan Santa, ­Shelter Rock P. L., Albertson, NY

Michaelides, Alex. The Silent Patient. Celadon. Feb. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9781250301697. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250301710. THRILLER
Psychotherapist Theo Faber is obsessed with the case of Alicia Berenson, an artist convicted of murdering her husband six years ago. Ever since she was found standing over his dead body, splattered with blood, she’s remained silent, not even speaking up in her own defense at trial. When the judge sentences her to Grove Psychiatric Hospital instead of prison. Theo sees his opportunity to work with her firsthand, leaving a more prestigious and stable job to work at the financially strapped hospital. Through Theo’s first-person narration and excerpts from Alicia’s diary that document events taking place before the murder, readers slowly learn about the circumstances leading to the deadly event. As Theo struggles to connect with mute Alicia and secretly conducts his own investigation into her past, he hopes to uncover clues about her marriage and what set off such a violent episode, wrestling with his own psychological demons along the way. Clever plotting, red herrings, and multiple twists ensure most readers will be surprised by the ending of this debut thriller from screenwriter ( The Devil You Know) Michaelides.
VERDICT Dark, edgy, and compulsively readable. [See Prepub Alert, 9/17/18.]
Kiera Parrott, Library Journal

redstarPenny, Louise. Kingdom of the Blind. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Chief Inspector Gamache, Bk, 14). Nov. 2018. 400p. ISBN . $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466873698. M
In the 14th book in Penny’s popular series (after Glass Houses), Armand ­Gamache seems to have hardened in the aftermath of taking down the drug cartels and the disappearance of deadly opioids in the previous book. He abandons Amelia Choquet and seems indifferent to the outcome of an investigation of the drug raid. A strange letter results in a snowbound meeting at a broken-down farmhouse that leads to Gamache, bookstore owner Myrna, and an eccentric young builder being named executors of the will of a woman they barely knew. The two stories wind back and forth, touching on the growing opioid epidemic, treasures stolen by the Nazis, the nature of loyalty, and the communal strength of Three Pines. Penny is a master at blending the modern evils affecting the big city and the hidden secrets of the almost mythical village of Three Pines. Well-known characters return and new faces add richness to a narrative that will keep readers intrigued until the last page. VERDICT Highly recommended for all collections. [See Prepub Alert, 5/14/18.]
Terry Lucas, Shelter Island P.L., NY

Sheridan, Sara. The Ice Maiden. Severn House. Nov. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780727888204. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781780109978. M
In 1842, Karina Lande, a destitute widow stranded on Deception Island, stows away on a British ship, hoping to reach Amsterdam. When she’s discovered and poses as a young man named Karl, she learns she’s actually on the way to Antarctica on Captain James Ross’s trip to map the continent. She successfully works as the cook’s assistant until an accident uncovers her true identity and is happy with her budding relationship with the ship doctor, Joseph Hooker, until the day some of the crew plant the flag and she falls in a crevasse and is left for dead. Seeking revenge against the men who abandoned her, Karina’s spirit lingers over Antarctica where she observes expeditions led by captains Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Henry Shackleton.
VERDICT While some may ponder whether Karina was actually betrayed, only intrepid readers will be willing to tackle a paranormal historical mystery about the explorations of Antarctica in the 19th century.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Starr, Jason. Fugitive Red. Oceanview. Nov. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781608093144. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781608093281. THRILLER
The latest novel from Starr (Pimp with Ken Bruen; “Gotham” series) opens with unhappily married Jack, a down-on-his-luck real estate agent, and corporate executive Maria. Their marriage is failing, but they share a common love for their son, Jonah. Then a friend tells Jack about an extramarital dating app called Discreet Hookups, where Jack meets Sophia (online name Fugitive Red) and quickly becomes infatuated. They arrange to meet at Sophia’s townhouse for their first rendezvous. But things go horribly wrong when Jack finds Sophia dead, apparently strangled with a red necktie. In a panic, Jack calls the police. He downplays his involvement with Sophia and denies murdering her but soon becomes a person of interest, and his life spirals out of control, especially when Maria finds out. Will the real killer be found before Jack is arrested? Starr spins a suspenseful tale that will leave readers wondering if Jack’s life will get better after the disastrous step of breaking his marriage vows.
VERDICT Recommended for thriller fans, especially domestic thrillers, such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. —Susan Moritz, Silver Spring, MD

Cozy Corner

Bradford, Laura. Just Plain Murder. Berkley Prime Crime. (Amish Mystery, Bk. 6). Nov. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780440000402. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780440000419. M
Claire Weatherly has found Heavenly, PA, to be close to divine; she’s content with her shop Heavenly Treasures, her life with Aunt Claire, friends in the Amish community, and her relationship with police detective Jakob Fisher. However, Heavenly has been the scene of some crimes. While on a romantic picnic with Claire, Jakob learns his mentor, retired police chief Russ Granger, has been murdered. He berates himself for not answering a call from Russ, while Claire worries that he’s spending all his waking hours investigating. Everyone assures her she’s the respite he needs, but Claire becomes increasingly concerned that the man she’s grown to love will not recover from the loss of the man who shaped him. The author has built a tight community in Heavenly, creating an atmospheric setting for a cozy series. The homespun, simple life leaves time for Claire to reflect on her relationships in thoughtful conversations with friends.
VERDICT Fans of Bradford’s character-centric series will appreciate this latest entry. New readers may enjoy meeting the protagonists in the first book in the series, Hearse and Buggy. —Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Flower, Amanda. Death and Daisies. Crooked Lane. (Magic Garden, Bk. 2). Nov. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781683317814. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781683317821. M
When Fiona Knox inherited her godfather’s cottage and magic garden in Scotland in Flowers and Foul Play, she thought she’d be welcome in the village where the MacAllisters have lived for centuries. Instead, the village rector, Quaid MacCullen, bars her at the church door. He disapproves of the family and the garden. Then on the eve of the opening of her new Climbing Rose Flower Shop, he threatens her. Even so, the opening is a success until the volunteer village police chief announces he’s found the minister’s murdered body. Although Chief Inspector Neil Craig never treats her as a suspect, Fiona feels accused because she had recently been a suspect in another murder investigation. After losing her flower shop in the States, Fiona is determined not to see another business succumb to rumors and suspicion.
VERDICT Introduce this series, with its charming characters and enchanting setting, to readers of other Scotland-set cozies, such as those by Paige Shelton and Molly ­MacRae. The magic realism aspect may appeal to fans of Ellery Adams and Sarah Addison Allen. —Lesa Holstine, ­Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

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