From Debuter Armstrong to Edgar Finalist Thompson: Mystery Previews, Dec. 2023, Pt. 1 | Prepub Alert

Chillers for chilly December. 

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Armstrong, Jess. The Curse of Penryth Hall. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Dec. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781250886019. $28. MYSTERY

A U.S. heiress starting a new life in the Cornish countryside, where she purveys rare books with her octogenarian housemate, Ruby Vaughn finds herself at the home of former best friend Tasmyn following a book delivery. She ends up staying at gloomy Penryth Hall when Tasmyn’s husband, Sir Edward Chenowyth, is murdered amid rumors of a family curse. Winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition; with a 50,000-copy first printing.

Higashino, Keigo. The Final Curtain. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Kyoichiro Kaga, Bk. 4). 400p. tr. from Japanese by Giles Murray. ISBN 9781250767523. $29. MYSTERY/INTERNATIONAL

A woman is found strangled to death in a Tokyo apartment rented under a false name by a man now vanished. Is there a connection to another unaccountable death, the burning of a homeless man? And can Tokyo Police Detective Kyoichiro Kaga, whose recently deceased mother ran away 10 years ago, shed any light on the case? From Edgar/CWA Dagger finalist Higashino; with a 35,000-copy first printing.

Ryan, Annelise. Death in the Dark Woods. Berkley. (Monster Hunter Mystery, Bk. 2). Dec. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780593441602. $27. MYSTERY

Bookstore owner Morgan Carter is an emerging cryptozoologist—on her first case, she solved the mystery of the monster in Michigan Lake. So naturally the conservation warden turns to her when a man is found dead, his throat jaggedly slashed, after the sighting of a Bigfoot-type creature in Wisconsin’s Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Following the LJ-starred A Death in Door Country.

Shelton, Paige. Lost Hours: A Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Alaska Wild, Bk. 5). Dec. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9781250846617. $28. MYSTERY

Having settled in Alaska to elude a would-be kidnapper, Beth Rivers—known to her fans as thriller author Elizabeth Fairchild—is aboard a ship cruising among the glaciers when the captain spots a bloodied woman waving from a remote island. The woman claims that she was kidnapped in Juneau, where she’s in the witness protection program, and that her captor was killed by a bear. Another kidnapping, and Beth’s deft investigating, follow. With a 30,000-copy first printing.

Spotswood, Stephen. Murder Crossed Her Mind.Doubleday. (Pentecost and Parker Mystery, Bk. 4). Dec. 2023. 384p. ISBN 9780385549288. $27. MYSTERY/HISTORICAL

It’s 1947 New York City, and Vera Bodine, an older woman with an icepick-sharp memory that’s served lawyers and FBI agents alike, has vanished. As they investigate, Det. Lillian Pentecost and wily assistant Willowjean “Will” Parker counter threats to their own integrity, Lillian from a millionaire who’s discovered a secret in her past and Will from thieves using her name and possibly her gun. Next in the Nero Award–winning series.

Thompson, Victoria. City of Betrayal. Berkley. (Counterfeit Lady, Bk. 7). Dec. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9780593440605. $28. MYSTERY/HISTORICAL

As a former grifter, Elizabeth Bates knows how to talk around any man, a skill that comes in handy when she joins a team seeking to persuade Tennessee to ratify the 19th Amendment (already rejected by other Southern states). But things are turning ugly, and she must devise a surefire con to protect her suffragist friends and their mission. From Edgar finalist Thompson.

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

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