There are several ways to know whether you’ve got a really fine novel on your hands, and you can tell pretty quickly that Dry Bones in the Valley is a debut of that caliber.
First, author Tom Bouman knows his rural Pennsylvania setting and is familiar with its smallest details, from inhabitants’ accents and manners to their dilapidated trailer homes, and from animal tracks in the woods to the winds and the night sky.
For crime aficionados, New York Times best-selling author Marcia Muller is always a welcome name, one to rely on when you want a sure thing—a book that captures the imagination and might even make you wish you’d cancelled your evening plans so you could just go on reading. Her latest, The Night Searchers—to be exact, number 31 in her San Francisco-based Sharon McCone series—promises to be that kind of book.
Chicago is infamous for its violence, from Prohibition-era mobsters to modern-day street gangs. As a result, novels set in Chicago often fall somewhere on the spectrum of crime fiction. Lori Rader-Day’s blood-tingling debut—a mystery so chock-full of suspense it’s best devoured in a single late-night reading session—imagines a different brand of violence in Chicago, a phenomenon that’s become all too familiar in the 21st century: school shootings.
Orchids—missing ones, dead ones, rare ones, at a murder scene or a horticultural talk—they’re all over the place in popular Brit mystery author Catherine Aird’s new series procedural, Dead Heading, featuring the organic detective duo Sloan and Crosby, long-timers from more than 20 of her mysteries.
For most high school bullying victims, life eventually gets better. For Toni Murphy, her torment at the hands of a mean-girl clique turns into a nightmare she can’t escape.
In the first in a thrilling new young adult mystery series from best-selling author April Henry, three teens join Portland’s Search and Rescue (SAR) team for very different reasons. For Nick, who lost his father in the Iraq War, volunteering with SAR represents true courage and leadership. For Alexis, SAR means overcoming a broken home and standing out on college applications. But for awkward and lonely Ruby, SAR is everything.
Small in size and easy on the eye, ear and virtual palette, the co-written Treachery in Bordeaux is a pleasant undertaking, light on action and suspense but generously laden with French atmosphere and extra flavor for the wine cognoscenti.
Certain words tend to get overused in book reviews, such as “riveting.” Sorry, but Invisible City, Julia Dahl’s debut novel, is riveting. I couldn’t put it down without thinking about when I might be able to pick it up again, and it was finished all too soon for my taste. This story developed a life of its own, and the cast of characters began to walk off the pages into real life.
Colin Cotterill lives in Southern Thailand, where he's set the inventive Jimm Juree mystery series in a rural outpost village called Maprao—a funky, lackadaisical, behind-the-times setting painted in cartoon colors with a comic wash. The Axe Factor is the third in this series of imaginatively plotted, very funny crime novels starring Jimm, a 30-something freelance reporter and “English language doctor” who still misses the bright lights and big-city atmosphere of her former home in Chiang Mai.
Best-selling author Nevada Barr is well known for her unique mystery series featuring national park ranger Anna Pigeon. Beginning with the award-winning Track of the Cat (1993), set in Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, the Anna Pigeon novels have treated readers to the unique scenic beauty of an array of national parks scattered across the country. Seventeen books later, we’re still enjoying Ranger Pigeon’s thrilling adventures set in both backcountry and urban park settings.