Thursday, November 26, 2015

To All of You....

Ghost Image by Ellen Crosby

First Line: "When the old prince dies they're going to cut out his heart and bury it in a monastery in Hungary."

When freelance photojournalist Sophie Medina finds Brother Kevin Boyle dead in a corner of the gardens of a Washington, DC monastery, she is certain that her friend was murdered. Shortly before he died, Boyle told Sophie that he was being stalked, probably because he had uncovered a botanic discovery that could be worth millions of dollars. Sophie has extremely few clues to this discovery, but she is determined to find out who killed him.

Armed with nothing but a key, Sophie jumps into the middle of an international treasure hunt that begins there in Washington, DC and then leads her to the English countryside. Time is running out. Will Sophie be able to find Kevin Boyle's killer before the killer finds her?

I was very impressed with the first book in this series, Multiple Exposure, and now after reading Ghost Image, Ellen Crosby's series has become one of my favorites. Why? It's due in large part to the main character. Sophie is strong, talented, intelligent, and she doesn't panic when she's in danger-- and she can be in danger often. She thinks on her feet extremely well and seldom makes a wrong move. She's also got a first-rate support system of friends and family, although she is cursed with Evil Mother Syndrome (a bane of my reading life).

Crosby's pacing is swift and sure, and she definitely has a knack for fascinating plots. In Multiple Exposure it was Fabergé Imperial Easter eggs, this time it's a botanical plot that goes all the way back to our Founding Fathers. I loved both of them. I also loved Sophie's London holiday at the Connaught (wish I could save up for one of my own), and I soaked up the historical information about Washington, DC that the author provides.

If you're looking for a smart, sophisticated mystery series with an appealing heroine, a bit of hair-raising action, and wonderful plots, then I have one suggestion for you: Ellen Crosby's Sophie Medina novels. You won't be able to turn the pages fast enough.   


Ghost Image by Ellen Crosby
eISBN: 9781451659443
Scribner © 2015
eBook, 320 pages

Amateur Sleuth, #2 Sophie Medina mystery
Rating: A
Source: Net Galley 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan

First Line: On the day that he was due to retire, Inspector Ashwin Chopra discovered that he had inherited an elephant.

On the day he is to retire, Inspector Ashwin Chopra of the Mumbai police inherits a baby elephant, but he has little time to think of it as anything other than a joke. His last day on the job is strangely unfulfilling, partly because a boy has drowned under suspicious circumstances, and no one seems to care. Yes, the boy lived in an extremely poor part of the city, but that means nothing to Chopra. Everyone is entitled to justice in his book.

At the end of his last day, Chopra's now ex-boss tells him that under no uncertain terms is he to investigate the boy's death. But Chopra simply cannot leave it alone-- even when he returns home to find a crowd of neighbors and a baby elephant waiting for him. His own private investigation takes him from one corner of Mumbai to the next, from posh high-rises to slums to Mumbai's thriving underworld. It's a case fraught with peril, and Chopra soon begins to understand that a determined elephant can be just the sort of partner he needs.

I doubt that I am the only reader out there who's been missing Tarquin Hall's excellent Vish Puri mystery series set in New Delhi, India. When I came across this book, I simply had to read it. What did I learn from it? That Vaseem Khan's new series has every hallmark of being a good alternative to the missing New Delhi private investigator (but without the mouthwatering food).

Ashwin Chopra is a dedicated police officer and a thoroughly honest man. He and the men in his department knew what to expect from each other, and they enjoyed working with each other. Chopra and his men certainly have a period of adjustment to undergo. His wife Poppy and his totally obnoxious mother-in-law also have this same period of adjustment, especially Poppy because Chopra just isn't capable of turning into a man of leisure, which is what Poppy wanted.

Khan shows us many faces of modern Mumbai: how it's changing, its politics, and its corruption. I look forward to getting to know this city even better in future books.

This is a first book, and it shows from time to time. The writing doesn't always flow smoothly, and Khan does something that always annoys me by sharing a couple of the clues after the investigative dust has settled. But all in all, this is a good read. You'll be surprised by how well a baby elephant can fit into a murder investigation-- and not just by adding humor. The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra has set up this new series nicely, and I look forward to seeing him and his elephant in action again soon.

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan
ISBN: 9780316386821 
Redhook Books © 2015
Paperback, 320 pages

Private Investigator, #1 Baby Ganesh Agency mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen. 


December 2015 New Mystery Releases!

I've been so busy with cooking, cleaning, pruning, raking, knitting, and plotting Christmas decorations that I could swear I just put up my November new release mystery picks just last week!

I've also been doing some plotting as far as this blog goes, but I'm not sure where I'm going to come up with the necessary free time.  But all this doesn't mean I haven't been keeping my eye on new crime fiction, no indeedy!

I've grouped all my picks according to their release dates, and I've included all the information you'll need to find them at all your favorite book procurement sites. The book synopses are courtesy of Amazon.

Hopefully you'll find plenty of books to request at the library or to add to your wish lists so folks will know what to buy for you for Christmas. Who knows? You may even get a gift card or two to spend! (Do those things burn a hole  in your pockets as quickly as they do in mine???)  Happy Reading!

=== December 1 ===

Title: His Right Hand
Series: #2 in the Linda Wallheim series set in Utah
ISBN: 9781616956103
Publisher: Soho Crime
Hardcover, 352 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.

Synopsis: "In Draper, Utah, a tight-knit Mormon community is thrown into upheaval when their ward’s second counselor—one of the bishop’s right-hand men—is found dead in an elaborately staged murder on church property. Carl Ashby was known as a devout Mormon, a pillar of the community, and a loving husband and father. Who would want him dead?

Linda Wallheim, the wife of the ward’s bishop, can’t rest as long as the ward is suffering. She is particularly worried about Carl’s grieving family. But the entire case is turned upside down by the autopsy report, which reveals Carl Ashby was a biological female. In the Mormon church, where gender is considered part of a person’s soul, some people regard transgenderism as one of the worst possible transgressions of faith. Church officials seem to be more upset by Carl’s gender than by his murder, and more concerned with hushing up the story than solving the crime.

Linda realizes that if the police are to catch the killer, they are going to need an ally on the inside—and she is the only one who can help. Carl was living a life of secrecy for twenty years. What else was he hiding—and can Linda ferret out the key to his death before the rumors tear her community apart?

Title: Blood, Salt, Water
Author: Denise Mina
Series: #5 in the Alex Morrow police procedural series set in Glasgow, Scotland
ISBN: 9780316380546
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Hardcover, 304 pages

Synopsis: "For reasons she can't quite explain, Alex Morrow is addicted to watching surveillance footage of Roxanna Fuentecilla--a gorgeous Spanish mother of two, in a tempestuous relationship with her boyfriend, who recently relocated to Glasgow under mysterious circumstances. She is also Morrow's prime suspect in an investigation that resembles a soap opera, filled with glamorous jetsetters and enough money to interest the highest levels of law enforcement. Until Roxanna vanishes.

Morrow traces Roxanna's steps to Helensburgh, a sleepy, picturesque seaside community. But behind the idyllic Victorian homes and quaint storefronts, darkness lurks. Home to a man with blood on his hands who is haunted by guilt, a mysterious woman with ulterior motives back in town for the first time in decades, a sexually frustrated restaurateur looking to blow off steam, and a crew of vicious small-time gangsters blindly following orders, it's a town ruled by base instincts where no one is quite what they seem. And it's the perfect place to get rid of someone.

When she uncovers an unsettling connection to Roxanna's job back in Glasgow, Morrow suspects that her missing person is more than a white-collar criminal on the lam--she may also be a victim caught up in a sophisticated conspiracy that stretches far beyond Helensburgh and is more personal than Morrow ever imagined. As the truth rises to the surface and the conflicts that lie beneath Helensburgh's calm waters threaten to explode, Morrow must find Roxanna before any hope of solving the case disappears with her.

A gripping tale of greed, power, and vengeance, Blood, Salt, Water is a masterful crime novel from Denise Mina that confirms her reputation as "one of the genre's brights stars" (George Pelecanos)

Title: Empty Nest
Author: Marty Wingate
Series: #2 in the Birds of a Feather cozy series set in England
eISBN: 9781101883396
Publisher: Random House Alibi
eBook, 298 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "Manager of a tourist center in a quaint British village, Julia Lanchester finds herself with more ideas than time. Her boss is the Earl Fotheringill himself, but apart from him, she doesn’t mix well with the aristocracy. Unfortunately, toxic mold forces her from her cottage and into one of the earl’s countless spare rooms at the Hall. She tries to get a handle on her overload of work, while she finds herself arguing with dinner guests, chaffing at the sudden interest the earl’s son has in running the estate, and missing her new beau, Michael Sedgwick.

Her life goes from bad to sinister when Julia discovers poisoned sparrowhawks on the expansive estate grounds. And soon after, she finds one of the Hall’s visitors murdered—felled by the same poison. While simultaneously both spooked and angry, she still can’t keep herself from snooping, and dragging Michael along into her investigation. But will she find the culprit before her own wings are clipped?

Title: Give Up the Ghost
Author: Juliet Blackwell
Series: #6 in the Haunted Home Renovations cozy series set in San Francisco, California
ISBN: 9780451465818
Publisher: NAL
Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages

Synopsis: "San Francisco millionaire Andrew Flynt wants to sell his Victorian mansion, but ghostly music, the squeaking of a long-disappeared weathervane, and an angry ghost keep running off potential buyers. After a famous psychic is called in, she informs the Flynts that their multi-million-dollar renovations to “update” the home have left its resident ghost extremely agitated. So contractor Mel Turner is engaged to track down and replace some of the original features of the house.

But when the beautiful psychic is found stabbed, it appears someone had a very human motive for murder. Now Mel must use her ghost whispering gift to uncover the secrets of the haunted house on the hill, and her sleuthing skills to catch a killer.

Title: The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle
Author: Laura DiSilverio
Series: #2 in the Readaholics Book Club cozy series set in Colorado
ISBN: 9780451470843
Publisher: NAL
Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages

Synopsis: "Amy-Faye Johnson’s book club, the Readaholics, is engrossed in Murder on the Orient Express, and Poirot’s surprising resolution is stirring up debate. Is the solution remotely realistic? Is justice served by Poirot's decision? Well, the book is fiction after all…

Then, just as Amy-Faye is planning the grand opening of her brother Derek’s pub,
his hot-headed partner is murdered. To keep Derek from being railroaded as a suspect, Amy-Faye and the Readaholics take a page from Poirot and investigate. But as the clues lead to unlikely places, surprising motives, and a multitude of suspects, Amy-Faye and her pals wonder if truth can be just as strange as fiction.

Title: Guilty As Sin
Author: Judith Cutler
Series: #7 in the Lina Townend amateur sleuth/antiques dealer series set in England
ISBN: 9780727885364
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Hardcover, 224 pages

Synopsis: "It’s a busy weekend for Lina: she wins a dance competition, annoys a valuable client and has to play gooseberry when Griff, her business partner, meets an old flame. Killing time, she drives across Dartmoor, only to find two men robbing a medieval church. Outraged, she manages to stop them – only to discover that it’s not just in Devon that they are working.

Safely back in Kent, she makes some new friends. One, a frail and confused pensioner, may have been the victim of a heartless crime. Another is a bright young woman eager to hear all about Lina’s life. But suddenly Lina realises that she may have made new enemies too – or maybe just stirred up some very dangerous old ones

Title: Riot Most Uncouth
Author: Daniel Friedman
Series: #1 in the Lord Byron historical series set in England
ISBN: 9781250027597
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Hardcover, 304 pages

Synopsis: "1807, Cambridge, England
A young woman is murdered in a boarding house, and nobody knows what to do about it. The volunteer watchman who patrols the streets of this placid college town has no idea how to investigate a serious crime and the private bounty hunters the girl's family has hired to catch the killer employ methods that are questionable, at best.

What Cambridge needs is a hero, and, in a situation such as this, it's very easy for a gentleman with a romantic disposition to mistake himself for one.

19 year-old Lord Byron, the outlaw poet, is a student at Trinity College, though he can only be described as a "student" in the loosest sense of the word: He rarely attends class and, instead, spends his time day-drinking, making love to faculty wives, and feeding fine cuisine and expensive wine to the bear he keeps as a pet.

Catching a killer seems like a fine diversion, however, and Byron decides that solving the crime must take precedence over other, less-urgent matters such as his failing grades and mounting debts.

=== December 15 ===

Title: The Treacherous Net
Author: Helene Tursten
Series: #8 in the Detective Inspector Irene Huss police procedural series set in Sweden
ISBN: 9781616954024
Publisher: Soho Crime
Hardcover, 320 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "It’s May and the snow has hardly melted in Göteborg, Sweden, but things are heating up quickly for Detective Inspector Irene Huss in the Violent Crimes Unit. The body of a teenage girl is found in the woods, naked and horrifically scarred. Then there’s the mummified body that is discovered bricked up in a chimney on a demolition site, not to mention the city’s ongoing problem with gang violence. With the sudden influx of cases and one detective out on maternity leave, everyone is stretched thin. To make matters worse, Irene feels more than a little intimidated by the new superintendent, Efva Thylqvist, who uses her sex appeal and smooth talking to bend the predominately male staff to her will.

Then a second young girl is found, wearing what appears to be the other half of the sexy lingerie set recovered near the first body. Fearing the two cases are linked and that the killer may strike again, Irene and her colleagues embark on a desperate hunt that takes them deep into a shadowy world of anonymous online predators and insecure teenage girls on a deadly quest for affirmation

Title: Killing Trail
Series: #1 in the Timber Creek K-9 police procedural series set in Colorado 
ISBN: 9781629534862
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Paperback, 320 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "When a young girl is found dead in the mountains outside Timber Creek, life-long resident Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small Colorado town.

With the help of Cole Walker, local veterinarian and a single father, Mattie and Robo must track down the truth before it claims another victim. But the more Mattie investigates, the more she realizes how many secrets her hometown holds. And the key may be Cole's daughter, who knows more than she's saying.

The murder was just the beginning, and if Mattie isn’t careful, she and Robo could be next. Suspenseful and smart, Killing Trail is an explosive debut that will have readers clamoring for more Mattie and Robo for years to come.

Title: "Every Seven Years"
Author: Denise Mina
Standalone Short Story
eISBN: 9781504025966
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
Digital short story, 55 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "It’s been seven years since Else visited her tiny hometown on an isolated island off the coast of Scotland. After years of suffering bullying at the hands of the few other residents, she left to make a new life. But now that her mother has passed, Else has returned. And when her old tormentor Karen Little hands her the very book that sent her running all those years ago, the cruelties of her past have Else seeing red." 

Title: The Man on the Washing Machine
Author: Susan Cox
ISBN: 9781250065803
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Hardcover, 304 pages

Synopsis: "When former party girl and society photographer Theophania Bogart flees to San Francisco to escape a high-profile family tragedy, a series of murders drags her unwillingly out of hiding. In no time at all she discovers she's been providing cover for a sophisticated smuggling operation, she starts to fall for an untrustworthy stranger, and she's knocked out, tied up and imprisoned. The police are sure she's lying. The smugglers are sure she knows too much. Her friends? They aren't sure what to believe.

The body count is rising and Theo struggles to find the killer before she's the next victim or her new life is exposed as an elaborate fraud. But the more deeply entangled she becomes, the more her investigation is complicated by her best friend, who is one of her prime suspects; her young protégé, who may or may not have a juvie record; her stern and unyielding grandfather, who exposes an unexpected soft center; and the man on her washing machine, who isn't quite what he appears, either.

Susan Cox's Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award-winning novel is a charming debut with wacky, colorful characters and a delightfully twisted mystery.

=== December 29 ===

Title: Thread and Gone
Author: Lea Wait
Series: #3 in the Mainely Needlepoint cozy series set in Maine
ISBN: 9781617730085
Publisher: Kensington Books
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "Angie Curtis and her fellow Mainely Needlepointers know how to enjoy their holidays. But nothing grabs their attention like tying up loose threads. So when Mary Clough drops in on the group's Fourth of July supper with a question about an antique needlepoint she's discovered in her family attic, Angie and her ravelers are happy to look into the matter.

Angie's best guess is that the mystery piece may have been stitched by Mary, Queen of Scots, famous not just for losing her head, but also for her needlepointing. If Angie's right, the piece would be extremely valuable. For safekeeping, Angie turns the piece over to her family lawyer, who places it in a safe in her office. But when the lawyer is found dead with the safe open and ransacked, the real mystery begins. . .

Title: Murder Most Malicious
Series: #1 in the Lady and Lady's Maid historical series set in 1918 England
ISBN: 9781617738302
Publisher: Kensington Books
Hardcover, 304 pages

Synopsis: "December 1918: As a difficult year draws to a close, there is much to celebrate for nineteen-year-old Phoebe Renshaw and her three siblings at their beloved family estate of Foxwood Hall. The dreadful war is finally over; eldest daughter Julia's engagement to their houseguest, the Marquis of Allerton, appears imminent; and all have gathered to enjoy peace on earth, good will toward men.

But the peace of Foxwood Hall is shattered on the morning of Boxing Day, when the Marquis goes missing. Not entirely missing, however, as macabre evidence of foul play turns up in gift boxes given to lady's maid Eva Huntford and a handful of others. Having overheard her sister and the Marquis in a heated exchange the night before, Lady Phoebe takes a personal interest in solving the mystery.

As the local constable suspects a footman at Foxwood Hall, Phoebe and Eva follow the clues to a different conclusion. But both young women will need to think outside the box to wrap up this case--before a cornered killer lashes out with ill will toward them. . .

=== December 31 ===

Title: Haunting Investigation
Series: #5 in the Chesterton Holte historical series set in 1920s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
ISBN: 9781943052004
Publisher: Cleveland Writer's Press, Inc
Paperback, 352 pages

Synopsis: "Spring 1924. The world has clawed its way back from the ravages of WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic. The 20's are beginning to roar. Poppy Thornton lives with her Aunt Jo and her excitable cat Maestro in upper-crust Philadelphia. Poppy is determined to make a name for herself as a serious crime reporter, but is stuck reporting on garden parties and ladies' fashion. Then one day her editor assigns her to collect background information on the suicide of a prominent businessman. She soon discovers it was actually a murder... but her surprising source for this information is the ghost of a man killed alongside her father during the Great War. Even if she dared tell anyone, who would believe it? Together Poppy and her "gentleman haunt" follow the trail of a string of murders. But as their investigation narrows in on an all-too-familiar suspect, Poppy becomes a target herself and wonders if her ghost of a partner will appear in time to keep her from joining him in the after-life." 

Wow-- a little something for everyone this month, isn't there? I already know there's some mighty fine reading in store from this list, and from the ones that I haven't read yet, I have to admit that Riot Most Uncouth certainly intrigues me. I guess I'd just love to know how "Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know" Lord Byron stacks up as a sleuth!

How about you? Which titles tickle your fancy in this list? Inquiring minds would love to know!