It’s always a pleasure to read books by longtime favorite authors, but finding a new writer who can keep you up all night is a special treat. Here are three new voices in crime fiction, each worthy of recognition.

Fina Ludlow could have taken the easy route—a cushy corporate gig with her family’s high-powered law firm—but it had the look of a velvet prison. Instead, she dropped out of law school and hung out her shingle as a private investigator. Grudgingly, her domineering father has kept her somewhat in the fold, utilizing her sleuthing talents whenever they are required for a first-class (read: underhanded) defense of a clearly guilty client. It is a matter of devotion, after all, that defines the family’s values and offers up the title of Ingrid Thoft’s engaging debut, Loyalty. When Fina’s sister-in-law abruptly disappears, the cops focus on the husband, Fina’s older brother Rand, who was seen carrying a large chest to his boat, then sailing off and returning with no chest to be found. Fina senses that there is more here than meets the eye, but she pursues the case out of familial obligation. Her allegiances will be tested, as will her detective skills, for it is likely that someone close to her is singularly undeserving of her loyalty.

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read an interview with Ingrid Thoft for Loyalty.

SUMMER SUSPENSE
Having lamented the disappearance of such complex and haunted stalwarts as John Rebus from the mystery pantheon, let us welcome a wonderfully troubled new entry, Barcelona police inspector Hector Salgado, in Antonio Hill’s The Summer of Dead Toys. The charge against Salgado: police brutality. The fallout: probation and self-imposed exile to his homeland of Argentina. Now, however, Salgado is back, and he needs a far-reaching case to take his mind off the savaged Nigerian girl and the sleazy human trafficker who provoked his uncharacteristically violent behavior. Instead, Salgado’s boss gives him an easy re-entry into the workforce, a no-brainer case of an accidental death (or perhaps suicide) of a young man who fell from an apartment window. That initial assessment doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny, however, and the case files quickly become littered with tales of drug deals gone sour, cover-ups protecting the rich and the resurfacing of crimes long buried. This fine debut will appeal to fans of Nesbø and Rankin, especially ones who enjoy a little Catalonian sunshine illuminating the darker corners of their mysteries.

VIRTUAL SINS
Jonathan Holt’s gripping debut, The Abomination, book one of a planned trilogy, is unique in that it is set in two places in one time—sort of. Both settings are modern-day Venice: one, the beloved city; the other, a brick-by-brick cyber replication courtesy of a website called Carnivia, in which anonymous users can conspire and move information clandestinely throughout virtual Venice without government interference. Meanwhile, a highly unusual murder takes place. The victim is a woman dressed in the sacred robes of a Catholic priest—but the Catholic Church does not recognize female priests, and the corpse becomes known as “the Abomination.” The case is assigned to Captain Kat Tapo, who quickly finds her pursuit leading her in strange directions: to superannuated U.S. military bases, unforthcoming clerics and the convoluted virtual world of Carnivia. The Abomination is a tantalizing debut, a masterful melding of religious mystery, political intrigue and just a bit of fantasy/sci-fi.

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