Eldridge's Debut of the Month, Huber's Pick, plus Ferrari, Miller, Noble, Pandian, Sweazy, Tursten, & Cozies from Crosby, Stein, & Fletcher | Mystery & Suspense, Nov. 2019

Eldridge introduces a quirky, passionate, and relatable protagonist in The Ninja Daughter; this atmospheric mystery set in the period following the Great War will be savored by readers looking for intricate plotting and captivating period details; should entice crime noir aficionados, with potential to break out to a wider audience; Sweazy’s latest is a fast-paced story that intensifies as it careens toward tragedy; a solid purchase for collections in which Nordic noir circulates regularly

 

 

redstarFerrari, K. Like Flies from Afar. Farrar. Mar. 2020. 224p. tr. from Spanish by Adrian Nathan West. ISBN 9780374239947. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780374718831. M
This short novel, Argentinian writer Ferrari’s first to appear in English, introduces Luis Machi, an oligarch of vulgar habits and loathsome tastes, who gets a flat while driving his $200,000 BMW. It’s not an accident. Someone has put caltrops on the road, knowing Luis would drive across them and destroy his tires. When he opens his trunk to find a replacement, inside he discovers a very dead, very messy corpse. His goal is get rid of the body, clean up the car and clothes, and hide any evidence of anything ever happening to him. With so many enemies, the effort to figure out who set him up is fruitless, and every step he takes makes things worse.
VERDICT This amazing mix of crime novel and detective story—think Jim Thompson—is even more of a nightmare—think Kafka—stunning in its power and originality. It should entice foremost crime noir aficionados, with potential to break out to a wider audience. —David Keymer, Cleveland


Miller, Zoë. The Visitor. Hachette Ireland. Nov. 2019. 400p. ISBN 9781473664661. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781473664654. SUSPENSE
Izzie Mallon intends to spend her first Christmas without her husband, Sam, who died in an accident months earlier, at home alone in an alcoholic haze, while telling friends and family she’s gone to a yoga retreat. Then a major snowstorm hits Dublin, and a man claiming to be Sam’s best mate, Eli Sanders, turns up when flights are canceled and he can’t get home to New York. Izzie feels obligated to invite him to stay. Only ten-year-old Noah Brady, who lives with his widowed father, Tom, in the apartment below Izzie’s, questions Eli’s identity because any one of Sam’s friends would have had greater knowledge of the Star Wars movies. Readers will realize from the start that the visitor is up to no good, as Izzie’s neighbors eventually learn, and Miller ramps up tension amid flashbacks portraying the love that blossomed between Izzie and Sam, despite his warning that his life probably would be cut short.
VERDICT This could be a breakout book for Miller (A House Full of Secrets). Although the ending is a bit pat, the story still presents well-drawn characters in a tale of romantic suspense with a feminist twist. —Michele Leber, Arlington, VA


Noble, Shelley. Tell Me No Lies. Forge. (Lady Dunbridge, Bk. 2). Nov. 2019. 368p. ISBN 9780765398741. $27.99. M
The second "Lady Dunbridge" mystery (following Ask Me No Questions ) is a witty, entertaining romp through elite society in early 20th-century New York. Philomena Amesbury reflects on her fortunate new life as a happily widowed aristocrat enjoying her freedom and luxurious lifestyle at the Plaza Hotel, courtesy of a shadowy agency requiring her crime-solving skills. The mysterious Mr. X tells Phil to expect a visitor, and Luther Pratt duly arrives in need of her services, as he fears social and financial scandal ensuing from the suspicious death of Perry Fauks, heir to an industrial empire, at his daughter’s debut. Phil gathers her team: Lily, her enigmatic lock-picking maid, and Preswick, her proper English butler with a penchant for detective novels. Meanwhile, Phil, her cohorts, and handsome Det. Sergeant Atkins collaborate to solve multiple crimes and avert the collapse of a fragile financial market.
VERDICT Wonderful period detail and clever humor combine with the delicious romantic tension between Phil and both Mr. X and Atkins to create a tasty recipe for fun reading. Historical mystery buffs and fans of amateur sleuths will eagerly await the next Lady Dunbridge adventure. [See Prepub Alert, 4/22/19.] —Barbara Clark-Greene, Westerly, RI


redstarPandian, Gigi. The Glass Thief. Henery. (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt, Bk. 6). Nov. 2019. 270p. ISBN 9781635115550. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781635115567. M
Pandian’s sixth Jaya Jones mystery (after The Ninja’s Illusion) begins with historian Jaya receiving an unusual and intriguing offer. Her favorite author, the reclusive Rick Coronado, has asked for her help with writing his next novel and solving the real-life mystery on which it’s based. The premise: a Parisian family is cursed after an ancestor loots a rare sculpture called the Serpent King from Cambodia. Over the span of seven decades, three unsolved murders have befallen family members, routinely occurring two nights before Christmas. After the most recent murder, the Serpent King went missing. Is it a malevolent ghost or a real person out for revenge? Determined to discover the answers, Jaya embarks on a search that will take her from San Francisco to France to Cambodia. ­
VERDICT Charming and eclectic characters populate this Indiana Jones-esque adventure, which comes highly recommended for fans of locked-room mysteries in the manner of Agatha Christie and Elizabeth Peters. —Susan Moritz, Silver Spring, MD


Sweazy, Larry D. The Lost Are the Last To Die. Five Star: Cengage. (Sonny Burton, Bk. 2). Nov. 2019. 332p. ISBN 9781432857233. $25.95. M
After Sonny Burton (first introduced in A Thousand Falling Crows) lost his right arm in a shoot-out with Bonnie and Clyde, he knew his career as a Texas Ranger was over. Then in 1934, Billy Burson escapes from Huntsville Prison with the warden’s pregnant wife as a hostage. No one knows Billy’s habits better than Sonny, so the Rangers ask him to help in the capture. Sonny and Billy spent years running into each other, from the time Billy was five years old. Now, with Sonny’s son, Jesse, another Ranger, as backup, they follow Billy’s killing spree across the area. It’s a cat-and-mouse game with both Sonny and Billy knowing one of them will end up dead after all the years that Sonny tried to save the boy who had nothing.
VERDICT Sweazy’s latest is a fast-paced story that intensifies as it careens toward tragedy. Fans of frontier mysteries will appreciate the juxtaposition of Billy’s early years with the violence of his final spree, in this atmospheric tale of a man who left a son at home pining for him, while he tried to save the prodigal. —Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN


Tursten, Helene. Winter Grave. Soho Crime. (Embla Nyström, Bk. 2). Dec. 2019. 336p. tr. from Swedish by Marlaine Delargy. ISBN 9781641290760. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781641290777. M
In this second thriller featuring DI Embla Nyström (following Hunting Game), Swedish author Tursten deepens the characterization of her 28-year-old series lead, the reigning Nordic light welterweight champion, who is called in to solve a series of seemingly unrelated crimes. First, a nine-year-old girl disappears two weeks before Christmas and police suspect the teenage boy in whose car she was last seen. Then a second child vanishes, followed by the murder of a police officer and the fire at the teenage suspect’s home that kills his father. The novel’s first half often struggles with pacing, as the crimes mount and the focus bounces around various Strömstad authorities who try to determine how these crimes are linked. Once Embla asserts herself as the primary investigator, the story finds its rhythm, and Tursten guides it through a series of satisfying twists and turns.
VERDICT A solid purchase for collections in which Nordic noir circulates regularly, though Tursten’s novels aren’t nearly as bleak or as humorless as others in the genre. [See Prepub Alert, 6/3/19.] —Michael Pucci, South Orange P.L., NJ


Collections & Anthologies
 

From Sea to Stormy Sea: 17 Stories Inspired by Great American Paintings. Pegasus. Nov. 2019. 272p. ed. by Lawrence Block. ISBN 9781643130828. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781643132853. M
Inspired by the work of Edward Hopper, Edgar Award winner Block published the anthology In Sunlight or in Shadow. Paintings are once again at the center of this latest collection, which includes a story by Block, as well as pieces by Sara Paretsky, John Sandford, Gary Phillips, Jan Burke, and others. The authors were invited to pick from a group of paintings by American artists, such as Andy Warhol, Thomas Hart Benton, and Grant Wood, and write a story influenced by that artwork. Patti Abbott’s "The Prairie Is My Garden" introduces a minister’s wife who uses an accident to her ­advantage. Moved by Winslow Homer’s Diamond Shoal, Brendan DuBois shows how a hurricane provides a perfect opportunity for revenge in "Adrift Off the Diamond Shoals." A tent revival leads to tragedy and a powerful ending in Paretsky’s "Baptism in Kansas."
VERDICT Block has put together an intriguing and diverse collection featuring acclaimed authors and artists. Mystery fans who enjoyed the previous collection will welcome this strong new anthology. —Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN


Cozy Corner
 

Crosby, Ellen. The Angels’ Share: A Wine Country Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Nov. 2019. 368p. ISBN 9781250164858. pap. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250164865. M
Lucie Montgomery, owner of Montgomery Estate Vineyard, is looking forward to leaving a party when she is approached by her host Prescott Avery. He invites her to join him for a glass of Madeira in his renowned wine cellar and she is too tempted to say no. Surrounded by Prescott’s priceless works of art and his astounding collection of documents and artifacts from the founding of the nation, he tells her he thinks that she and her family know the whereabouts of a trove of vintage Madeira from 1809, and that he’s willing to pay top dollar for it. Lucie knows nothing of this and tells him so. Within minutes of her leaving him, Prescott is dead and Lucie gets embroiled in the aftermath. Soon she is on the hunt for the missing Madeira, investigating secret safe-deposit boxes, the Jamestown settlement, and the origins and practices of the Freemasons.
VERDICT This well-plotted addition to these award-winning mysteries (after Harvest of Secrets) will appeal to fans of the series and historical puzzles, as seen in the film National ­Treasure. —Amy Nolan, St. Joseph, MI


Fletcher, Jessica & Jon Land. Murder, She Wrote: A Time for Murder. Berkley Prime Crime. (Murder, She Wrote, Bk. 50). Nov. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9781984804303. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781984804327. M
It’s been 25 years since Jessica Fletcher solved her first murder mystery. Now, she’s being interviewed for a high school newspaper, that initial case comes back to haunt her. She was a high school substitute English teacher when she helped police detective Amos Tupper investigate the murder of the school principal. Jessica was a keen witness even then, helping to narrow the time frame to find a liar and killer. At present, the young interviewer turns out to be older than Jessica thought, and she’s related to the victim from 25 years earlier. It’s a retirement party for a teacher from that same school, though, that brings a new murderer out into the open. The combination of Fletcher’s first case with a contemporary one is perfect for the 50th book in the popular series. Characters from Jessica’s past, including retired sheriff Tupper, return to add a nostalgic element to the story.
VERDICT Although there are so many implausible elements, including the startling climax with a freighter and a lighthouse, fans of the cozy mystery series will be eager to pick up this latest book. [See Prepub Alert, 4/22/19.] —Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN


Stein, Triss. Brooklyn Legacies. Poisoned Pen: Sourcebooks. (Erica Donato, Bk. 5). Dec. 2019. 224p. ISBN 9781492699347. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781492699361. M
Louisa Gibbs is a well-known firebrand advocating for the preservation of Brooklyn’s historic neighborhoods. Daniel Towns is responsible for selling the vast land holdings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower, most probably to developers. One of these holdings abuts Louisa’s 19th-century historic home, and both parties are disputing property lines. When Daniel gets threatening letters, Louisa is the prime suspect, until she, too, receives them, forcing the police to look elsewhere, with no clues to guide them. The subsequent murder of Daniel Towns in the underground tunnels connecting the various Watchtower buildings baffles everyone. Dr. Erica Donato, a new graduate specializing in Brooklyn history, has befriended both Louisa and the detective investigating the letters and murder, and both have asked for her assistance in solving the crimes.
VERDICT This fifth book in the "Erica Donato" series (after Brooklyn Wars) is ­fascinating primarily for the history of Brooklyn aspect. Erica is not a particularly endearing character, nor is she an astute detective—she acts before she thinks and fails to see evident facts. While this installment stands on its own, the series will attract Brooklynites and those interested in its history. —Edward Goldberg, Syosset P.L., NY


This article was originally published in Library Journal's November 2019 issue 

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