Just after well-known British mystery writer Ruth Rendell died in May of this year, at the age of 85, her life and talents were described in the media with words like “brilliant,” “discomfiting” and “challenging.” Readers who’ve long been gripped by Rendell’s imaginative crime fiction, however, knew that already. From her popular Chief Inspector Wexford series with such hallmarks as the top-notch An Unkindness of Ravens and Not in the Flesh, to standalone classics like A Dark Adapted Eye (as Barbara Vine) and A Judgment in Stone, right up to her last, Dark Corners, the author’s unsettling prose has always attracted legions of readers.
In 1952, Barcelona trembles beneath the oppressive, tyrannical regime of Franco’s fascist party. Ana Marti, a young journalist sick of detailing debutantes’ fashions and high-society scandals, gets her big break when socialite Mariona Sobrerroca is brutally murdered in the exclusive upper part of the city. Ana’s shocked to be assigned such an important case, but she holds her ground while working with Barcelona’s finest detective, Isidro Castro, despite his misogynistic grumblings about working with a woman.
Several years ago, after researching his true crime book The Serial Killer’s Apprentice, James Renner was diagnosed with PTSD. It’s not uncommon for journalists to suffer such effects after witnessing trauma for a story, and Renner’s 10 years of hunting serial killers and writing about unsolved murders caught up with him. Fiction provided an unexpected safe haven, and his genre-bending time-travel thriller, The Man from Primrose Lane (2012), was a crime he could finally solve. His latest thriller, The Great Forgetting, digs at a much larger mystery, one with more questions, no generic answers and therefore plenty of room for an imaginative author to play. The result is a mix of conspiracy theorist paranoia, alternate history and cross-country adventure.
Violinist Julia Ansdell is the troubled heroine of Playing with Fire, a haunting new literary suspense novel by Tess Gerritsen, the best-selling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series and a number of standalone thrillers such as The Bone Garden and Harvest.
In this month's best new mysteries, an ex cop seeks bloody atonement, Precious Ramotswe returns to solve a new case, the Lincoln Lawyer teams up with Harry Bosch and a reluctant spy seeks to keep the British Commonwealth afloat.
One of the joys of reading a good mystery is feeling like a dope at the end, knowing that the answer was there in front of you from early on but the writer cleverly hid every single clue. Kate Morton’s The Lake House isn’t one of those books. This reviewer figured it all out by chapter 32, and even the book acknowledges that there are a few too many coincidences. Still, the story Morton tells is engaging.
In real life, British author Peter James rides regularly with the Sussex police on their rounds. This fascination with police procedures and the milieu of law enforcement is amply displayed in his best-selling Roy Grace crime novels, now in its 11th installment with You Are Dead.
There’s trouble among the upper crust of 1930s London society, and in Ashley Weaver’s absorbing second mystery, Death Wears a Mask, the lovely and aristocratic Amory Ames is once again at the ready. She unmasked a murderer in Weaver’s 2014 debut, Murder at the Brightwell, and now a wealthy acquaintance has sought her help in ferreting out a thief.
The dead man’s ID says his name is James Putnam. The unfortunate victim of a motor vehicle accident, Putnam was killed instantly on the highway when an oncoming car jumped the divider and plowed head-on into his Porsche.
The problem is that James Putnam has been dead for 15 years.
In Art in the Blood, author Bonnie MacBird revives the favored and famous detective Sherlock Holmes and the indispensable, recently married Dr. Watson.