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.
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 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.
Italian-born author Elsa Hart lived in China for a time, absorbing knowledge of its history, customs and manners, and in her exceptional debut mystery, Jade Dragon Mountain, she evokes its essence for readers in often dreamlike, mesmerizing prose.
Imagine a world in which the Nazis were victorious in World War II. Guy Saville takes that perilous route in his new thriller, The Madagaskar Plan, a sequel to his first novel, The Afrika Reich, with a third to follow in the author’s alternate history trilogy.
There are plenty of ugly childhoods, traumas and bad starts to go around in Mary Kubica’s Pretty Baby, a new psychological thriller that comes hard on the heels of the author’s debut novel, The Good Girl, which hit a number of “best” lists in 2014.
It takes only a few pages of the suspenseful mystery After the Storm to hurl readers into the heart of a violent tornado touching down near the little town of Painters Mill in rural Ohio, bringing widespread destruction and even the death of an infant. In the twister’s aftermath, a different kind of damage works its way to the surface, as Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to the site of an old barn where human bones have been unearthed in the wake of the storm.
Noir fans will find plenty to like in The Devil’s Share, the fourth book in Wallace Stroby’s series featuring professional thief Crissa Stone. It’s a classic of the genre and a perfect example of just how badly things can go wrong for anyone, even an obsessive planner like Crissa, who picks up on any tiny deviation from her carefully organized heists.