Tuesday, February 27, 2024

March 2024 New Mystery Releases!

I'm eagerly awaiting our first trip this year to the Desert Botanical Garden, and what better way to pass the time than to share new books with all of you?
There's a little something for everyone in March. After a slow start, I've now had three Best Reads practically right in a row, and-- as with any new release post-- I'm wondering if there's another Best Read waiting for me in this list.
I've grouped my picks for the best new crime fiction in March according to their release dates. The book covers and synopses are courtesy of Amazon.
Let's see if I'll be adding any of these titles to your own Need to Read lists!
=== March 5 ===
Title: The Scream of Sins
Series: #6 in the historical mystery series featuring Simon Westow, a former workhouse orphan working as a thieftaker (recovering items stolen from the rich) in 1820s Leeds, England.
240 pages
Synopsis: "Leeds, October 1824. Thief-taker Simon Westow's job seems straightforward. Captain Holcomb's maid, Sophie, has stolen important papers that could ruin the family's reputation, and he's desperate for their return. But the case very quickly takes a murderous turn, and it becomes clear the papers are hiding a host of sins . . .

During the search, Simon's assistant, Jane, hears a horrific tale: men are snatching young girls from small towns for use by the rich. Those who are unwanted are tossed on to the streets of Leeds to survive among the homeless. With the help of an unlikely, deadly new companion, Jane will do everything to discover who's responsible and make them pay.

Can Simon and Jane recover Holcomb's letters and get justice for the stolen girls? It becomes a battle that might result in them losing everything . . . including their lives.

Title: Perfect Opportunity
Author: Steven F. Havill
Series: #26 in the Posadas County police procedural series set in southwestern New Mexico. 
224 pages

Synopsis: "The morning after his eighty-seventh birthday bash, former Posadas County sheriff Bill Gastner drives past a couple of vehicles stopped on the highway shoulder. It's not an unusual sight: a sheriff's patrol unit, emergency lights ablaze, pulled in behind a pickup truck. The female deputy hasn't radioed for backup. But there's something about the scene that makes him feel uneasy.

The next day, Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman is called to a rather more dramatic and disturbing roadside scene, with the same truck the star of the show. But this time, its occupant is in no fit state to talk - his dead body stabbed through the chest with a Ka-Bar, a second corpse in the ditch beside the car.

What happened to the two men? And what
were the dead man and the deputy discussing in the quiet of pre-dawn the previous day?

The truth is more twisty and complex than even Estelle and her long-standing friend and former colleague Bill are ready for, and it will take all their combined years of experience to untangle the sorry tale and ensure justice is served.

Fans of CJ Box, Anne Hillerman and Terry Shames will love this thrilling, small-town Western mystery set in New Mexico, as will readers who love strong female protagonists and retired sleuthing heroes.

Title: The Dead Years
Series: #1 in the Chicago K-9 thriller series set in Illinois.
224 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "Siblings Cory and Crystal Pratt are still trying to get their lives together after a tragic accident which killed their parents years ago. The only thing that distracts them now is their jobs. With Crystal working as a newly minted detective at the Chicago Police Department and Cory owning a dog training academy with two human remains detection dogs of his own, their professional paths cross every now and then.

Crime, and especially murder, in Chicago is nothing new, but when a string of killings happen that seem to be connected to a Netflix docuseries and its cast and crew, Cory and Crystal are called in to stop the number of bodies from piling any higher.

But when the siblings start poking around the killer's business, the killer sets their sights on the pair . . . and particularly on Cory and his dogs! Will they be able to escape the fury of the serial killer or become the newest victims?

Title: The Road to Murder
Series: #4 in the Tuscan mystery series featuring Nico Doyle, a former NYPD homicide detective living in a small town in the Chianti region of Italy.
336 pages
Synopsis: "Though it took some time to settle into his new life in Gravigna, Italy, following the death of his wife, former NYPD detective Nico Doyle has figured out a thing or two. The locals have not only welcomed him, but are giving him rave reviews on his cooking, and his budding relationship with Nelli, a local woman, is healing old wounds.

When Nico receives a phone call before dawn, he wants to ignore it. A phone call at that time can only mean trouble. Sure enough, it’s Perillo of the local carabinieri. A woman has been found dead in her home, slumped over her piano, and the sole witness speaks only English. Nico reluctantly agrees to help Perillo with the case.

Judging by the crime scene, Perillo and Nico determine foul play, and they don’t have to look long for suspects. Following the death of her husband, the late Signora Nora had taken on a number of lovers, her two daughters weren’t on the best terms with her, and there’s a lot to be gained from the sale of her residence. Nico and Perillo have their hands full as they try to solve the murder and restore peace to the otherwise sleepy Gravigna.

=== March 8 ===

Title: The Dubrovnik Book Club
Author: Eva Glyn
Standalone cozy mystery set in Croatia.
387 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "Newly arrived on the sun-drenched shores of Croatia, Claire Thomson’s life is about to change forever when she starts working at a local bookshop. With her cousin Vedran, employee Luna and Karmela, a professor, they form an unlikely book club.
But when their first book club pick – an engrossing cosy crime – inspires them to embark upon an investigation that is close to the group’s heart, they quickly learn the value of keeping their new-found friends close as lives and stories begin to entwine…
=== March 12 ===
Title: Dark Dive
Author: Andrew Mayne
Series: #5 in the Underwater Investigation Unit law enforcement series set in Florida.
299 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "After the Underwater Investigation Unit’s disbandment, public outcry ushers Sloan McPherson and her partner, former navy diver Scott Hughes, back into the depths of crime solving. But Sloan’s return comes with a personal case.

Longtime family friend Fred Stafford has disappeared. Left behind: his abandoned truck in the vicinity of an unmarked sinkhole and new findings that have Sloan second-guessing everything she thought she knew about the man. There are his gambling debts, his association with a treasure-hunting band of underwater cavern junkies called the Dive Rats, and most alarming of all, a discovery in Stafford’s storage shed that raises the stakes even higher and plunges Sloan into an unfathomable mystery.

As Sloan’s investigation unfolds, a tragic Florida cold case, local superstitions, and a shocking conspiracy collide. For Sloan, finding Stafford and uncovering the buried secrets of the past soon drag her deeper into the dark unknown than she feared.
=== March 19 ===
Title: The Mystery Writer
Standalone thriller.
400 pages
Synopsis: "When Theodosia Benton abandons her career path as an attorney and shows up on her brother's doorstep with two suitcases and an unfinished novel, she expects to face a few challenges. Will her brother support her ambition or send her back to finish her degree? What will her parents say when they learn of her decision? Does she even have what it takes to be a successful writer?

What Theo never expects is to be drawn into a hidden literary world in which identity is something that can be lost and remade for the sake of an audience. When her mentor, a highly successful author, is brutally murdered, Theo wants the killer to be found and justice to be served. Then the police begin looking at her brother, Gus, as their prime suspect, and Theo does the unthinkable in order to protect him. But the writer has left a trail, a thread out of the labyrinth in the form of a story. Gus finds that thread and follows it, and in his attempt to save his sister he inadvertently threatens the foundations of the labyrinth itself. To protect the carefully constructed narrative, Theo Benton, and everyone looking for her, will have to die. 

USA Today bestselling author Sulari Gentill takes readers on a rollercoaster ride in The Mystery Writer, a literary thriller that turns the world of books and authors upside down and where a writer's voice is a thing to be controlled and weaponized, to the peril of everyone who loves a good story.

Title: Kill for Me Kill for You
Standalone thriller set in New York City.
352 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "One dark evening on New York City’s Upper West Side, two strangers meet by chance. Over drinks, Amanda and Wendy realize they have much in common, especially loneliness and an intense desire for revenge against the men who destroyed their families. As they talk into the night, they come up with the perfect plan: if you kill for me, I’ll kill for you.

In another part of the city, Ruth is home alone when the beautiful brownstone she shares with her husband, Scott, is invaded. She’s attacked by a man with piercing blue eyes, who disappears into the night. Will she ever be able to feel safe again while the blue-eyed stranger is out there?

Intricate, heart-racing, and from an author who “is the real deal” (Lee Child, #1
New York Times bestselling author), Kill for Me, Kill for You will keep you breathless until the final page.

=== March 26 ===

Title: To Slip the Bonds of Earth
Series: #1 in the Katharine Wright historical series set in Ohio.
288 pages
Synopsis: "December 1903: While Wilbur and Orville Wright’s flying machine is quite literally taking off in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina with its historic fifty-seven second flight, their sister Katharine is back home in Dayton, Ohio, running the bicycle shop, teaching Latin, and looking after the family. A Latin teacher and suffragette, Katharine is fiercely independent, intellectual, and the only Wright sibling to finish college. But at twenty-nine, she’s frustrated by the gender inequality in academia and is looking for a new challenge. She never suspects it will be sleuthing…

Returning home to Dayton, Wilbur and Orville accept an invitation to a friend’s party. Nervous about leaving their as-yet-unpatented flyer plans unattended, Wilbur decides to bring them to the festivities . . . where they are stolen right out from under his nose. As always, it’s Katharine’s job to problem solve—and in this case, crime-solve.

As she sets out to uncover the thief among their circle of friends, Katharine soon gets more than she bargained for: She finds her number one suspect dead with a letter opener lodged in his chest. It seems the patent is the least of her brothers’ worries. They have a far more earthbound concern—prison. Now Katharine will have to keep her feet on the ground and put all her skills to work to make sure Wilbur and Orville are free to fly another day.

Title: Secrets of a Scottish Isle
Series: #5 in the Jane Wunderly historical series set in 1920s Scotland.
272 pages
Synopsis: "Isle of Iona, 1927: Cast away on a remote locale, Jane’s latest assignment depends on concealing her identity and blending in at an occult gathering. Not even her fiancé, Redvers, can be too close as she uncovers the truth about Robert Nightingale, enigmatic leader of the Order of the Golden Dawn—a group made up of supernatural ceremonies, influential people, and an undefinable darkness. When a woman tries to escape to the mainland only to be found murdered in the moors, the shocking scene reveals it’s easier to join the Golden Dawn than it is to leave.

Jane, set on solving the crime and catching the next ferry with Redvers, realizes she may be among the few still grasping reality. One high-ranking member searches for the killer by attempting to access otherworldly planes of existence, while others become immersed in a strange solstice ritual. Then there’s Nightingale and the rivals who discarded him to start a new temple. As a second death brings fresh clues into focus, Jane needs to navigate a frightening dilemma—playing along won’t help her crack the mystery, but revealing too much could be a fatal mistake . . .

How'd I do? Did you add any of these to your own lists... or were they already on there? Inquiring minds would love to know!

Monday, February 26, 2024

The Last Word by Elly Griffiths

First Lines: Monday, 4 April 2022. There are some advantages to being the oldest sleuth in the country, thinks Edwin.
Even though Natalka and Edwin's detective agency in Shoreham is kept busy with minor cases, Natalka longs for a big, juicy investigation. Then her wish comes true.
Melody Chambers, a local writer, is found dead, and her daughters are convinced it was murder. Edwin, a big fan of newspaper obituaries, thinks there's a link to the writer of Chambers' obituary, a man who predeceased his subject. 

Their investigation leads them to a rather strange writers' retreat, and when another writer is found dead, Edwin thinks that the solution lies in the stories written at the retreat. Realizing they need professional help, Natalka and Edwin turn to their friend, police detective Harbinder Kaur. What they find is a plot that's stranger than fiction.


The more Elly Griffiths writes, the more I admire her skill and artistry. When I learned that The Last Word would be a return to Natalka, Benedict, and Edwin-- characters last seen in The Postscript Murders-- I couldn't wait to read it, and it certainly did not disappoint.

Readers get to experience the story from the points of view of the three main characters: Natalka, an Eastern European caregiver who runs a detective agency on the side; her live-in boyfriend, Benedict, a former monk who runs a coffee shop at the beach; and Edwin, a former BBC employee who's on the far side of seventy. Natalka's life has been further complicated by her mother moving in and the news that her brother is in the army fighting in Ukraine. Is it any wonder that she wants a big, juicy investigation to take her mind off her worries?

The Last Word takes us into the worlds of writing retreats, book clubs, authors, and obituary writing. I love how Griffiths ties her story and characters into the here and now of our everyday world by mentioning things like the song "Jolene", a television series called "The Repair Shop", Goodreads ratings, and even tennis legends Federer and Nadal.

Harbinder Kaur is tangential to the story. She appears only a few times to give Natalka, Benedict, and Edwin advice even though she really doesn't want to become involved because "Authors, in Harbinder's experience, mean trouble."

I was enjoying myself immensely, but when all the pieces of the puzzle finally fell into place, I actually crowed with delight at the unveiling of the mystery's complete construction. (And you'll rarely hear me crow.) What a wonderful story peopled with characters who seem actual flesh and blood! Do yourself a favor. Get your hands on a copy of this book, sit back, and savor.

The Last Word by Elly Griffiths
ISBN: 9781529433432
Quercus Books © 2024
Hardcover, 352 pages
Private Investigator
Rating: A+
Purchased from Amazon UK

Sunday, February 25, 2024

On My Radar: Ragnar Jónasson's Death at the Sanatorium!


As many of you already know, I enjoy Ragnar Jónasson's writing, especially his trilogy featuring Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir, and his police procedural series with Ari Thór Arason. His last three books have been standalones, but it doesn't matter-- if he writes something, I want to read it. Can you imagine my delight when I read about his next book? I'm so tickled that I can't wait for the US cover reveal. Let me tell you more about it, and you'll understand that this discovery was a wheelie-popping experience.

UK cover. Available in US September 10, 2024!


"Fresh off his career-changing standalone co-written with Icelandic PM, Reykjavík, #1 Icelandic bestseller Jónasson presents a riveting new thriller spinoff from The Darkness, soon to be a TV series.


At a former sanatorium in the north of Iceland, now a hospital ward, an old nurse, Yrsa, is found murdered. Detective Hulda Hermannsdóttir and her boss, Sverrir, are sent to investigate her death. There, they discover five suspects: the chief physician, two junior nurses, a young doctor, and the caretaker, who is arrested following false testimony from one of the nurses, but subsequently released.

Less than a week after the murder, the chief physician, is also found dead, having apparently fallen from a balcony. Sverrir, rules his death as suicide and assumes that he was guilty of the murder as well. The case is closed.


Almost thirty years later, Helgi Reykdal, a young police officer, has been studying criminology in the UK, but decides to return to Iceland when he is offered a job at the Reykjavik police department―the job which detective Hulda Hermannsdóttir is about to retire from.

He is also a collector of golden age detective stories, and is writing his thesis on the 1983 murders in the north. As Helgi delves deeper into the past, and starts his new job, he decides to try to meet with the original suspects. But soon he finds silence and suspicion at every turn, as he tries to finally solve the mystery from years before."
Death at the Sanatorium sounds like a winner even without the chance to see Hulda in action once again. I can't wait to get my hands on this one! 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

A Fingers Crossed Weekly Link Round-Up


It's going to be a busy week here at Casa Kittling, so I'm getting this round-up done early. There are going to be furniture deliveries, the usual medical appointments, and-- since the weather is going to play nice for a change-- Denis and I are planning to go to the Desert Botanical Garden. Yippee!

I feel so seen!

Enjoy the links!

►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄
►Book Banning & Censorship◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄
►Channeling My Inner Elly May Clampett◄
  • A very considerate mouse was caught secretly tidying up a man's shed.
  • Can killing one species of owl help save another?
  • A kayaker encountered a humpback whale with her tail sticking straight up in the air.
  • Why don't fruit bats get diabetes? New understanding of how they've adapted to a high-sugar diet could lead to treatments for people.
  • Australia's third annual cane toad kill-a-thon happened in January.
  • Watch sea otters play a game of water basketball.
  • As the planet warms, Australia's numbats are at risk of overheating.
  • Why do dogs wag their tails?
►The Wanderer◄
►Fascinating Folk◄
►I ♥ Lists◄

That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

No matter how busy you may be, don't forget that quality Me Time curled up with a good book!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Cure of Souls by Phil Rickman

First Line: It was really getting to Jane now, tormenting her nights, raiding her head as soon as she awoke in the mornings.
It may be the height of summer in Herefordshire, but dark clouds are gathering over a converted hop kiln where the last owner was savagely murdered. The current owners are convinced that the place is haunted, but even though their story becomes headlines in a Sunday newspaper, the local vicar dismisses the idea as nonsense. 
Always leery of bad press, the Bishop of Hereford directs Merrily Watkins, priest and exorcist for the diocese, to put the situation to rest. It makes no difference that Merrily already has her hands full with a woman who is convinced that her adopted daughter is possessed by an evil spirit.
It had been years since I'd first enjoyed the first three books in Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins series. Then the day came when I saw the next three sitting on my bookshelf, and I knew it was time to pick up book four, The Cure of Souls. Rickman knows how to blend many elements into a compelling, atmospheric tale. 
There's the element of the supernatural that makes the story a tiny bit eery, even though the cause of mayhem is always rooted in very earthbound human behavior. There's the element of setting in which I always learn something about the area. In The Cure of Souls, this element is threefold: a bit about the history of hop growing and picking, the making of guitars, and Romany (gypsy) traditions. There's the ecclesiastical element which is done with a light touch. There's the strong element of mystery which keeps readers wondering what in the world is going on, and then there's my favorite-- the element of character. I truly enjoy the characters in this book.

Merrily Watkins is a woman with a true calling. She wants to do good. She wants to help her fellow human beings. She wants to raise her teenage daughter to be a good person, and she's still not convinced that she's the right priest for the job of diocese exorcist, but she's working hard to learn as much about it as she can. She has to work hard because too many people still look at her and think, "You're the wrong sex, you're too young, you're too small."
At the beginning of this series, I couldn't stand Merrily's daughter, Jane. Jane just got right up my nose, but I'm happy to say that, as she gets older, she's begun to realize that the world doesn't revolve around her and she needs to take other people into account. She's got good instincts in this book, and it's fun to watch the evolution of her character.
I love how Rickman begins his tales with overtones of the supernatural-- Ouija boards, fortune tellers, demonic possession, ghosts-- and then turns everything inside out to show how the mystery is actually rooted in the here and now. That takes skill, and when that skill is joined with an atmospheric setting and a strong cast of characters, it turns this series into a winner. 

The Cure of Souls by Phil Rickman
ISBN: 0330487566
PanMacmillan © 2001
Paperback, 566 pages

Amateur Sleuth, #4 Merrily Watkins mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Paperback Swap

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

A Visit to the Phoenix Art Museum, Part Three

For our third virtual visit to the Phoenix Art Museum, I want to take you to see the Thorne Rooms, a fantastic collection of miniature rooms. (The museum has twenty of the original thirty rooms.) I apologize in advance for the poor quality of the photos. The lighting was terrible, the reflections on the glass were brutal, the room was crowded, and I couldn't "pretzel" myself into stances that could've allowed for better angles and better photographs. Hopefully what I do share will give you a taste of these fabulous works of art.

From the Phoenix Art Museum website:
"...the Thorne Rooms represent a fascinating world in miniature. Created at an exacting scale of one inch to one foot, several of the rooms replicate actual spaces found in the United States and Europe, while the remainder were inspired by the architecture and interior design of their respective periods and countries. These rooms were conceived, designed, and, in large part, crafted by Indiana native Narcissa Niblack Thorne (1882-1966), who began to collect miniature furniture and household accessories during her travels to England and Asia shortly after the turn of the 20th century.

This is an exhibit I could visit again and again. There are always new details that jump out at you with a second look.

American Colonial Bedroom, 1740-1750. Sometimes the ghost of the photographer can be seen in the glass. *sigh*

English Georgian Library, 1714-1820.

Of course I'm going to gravitate toward books, even if they are too small to read!

English Adam Dining Room, 1762-1794.

Look at the detail on the walls and ceiling!

English Jacobean Hall, 1603-1649. Probably my favorite room in this collection. The ceiling, the walls...

The window and windowseat...

The dog by the fireplace... I could see myself using this room a lot if it were real.

Italian Dining Room, c. 1500. The objects featured in this room come from a variety of sources and represent Thorne's skill as a designer. The wooden shutters, corner chimneypiece, and decorated ceiling beams are inspired by room found in the famous 14th-century Davanzetti Palace in Florence, Italy. The silver on the table and sideboard came from antique shops in Rome and Florence, and the tiny straw-wrapped wine bottle is from Orvieto, a small Italian town that sits on top of a hill known for its wine. Thorne found two rare pieces of needlework, seen on the back wall, in Vienna, Austria. The two chests beneath the tapestries were Thorne's only attempt at woodcarving.

Detail from the Italian dining room.

Even though the photo quality was very poor, I hope you were able to see how incredible these miniature rooms are. Next Wednesday, I'll conclude our virtual tour with a stroll through the Western American art wing of the museum.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Resurrection Walk by Michael Connelly

First Line: The family gathered in the visitor lot: Jorge Ochoa's mother and brother and me.
After getting a wrongfully convicted man out of prison, lawyer Mickey Haller is inundated with requests from incarcerated people who claim they're innocent. He recruits his half-brother, retired LAPD Detective Harry Bosch to weed through the letters. Both men know that most of them will be false.
When Bosch reads the letter of a woman in prison for killing her husband, a sheriff's deputy, he reviews the case and sees that some things just don't add up.
Now Haller has an uphill battle to fight in court. He and Bosch are both in danger from people who don't want the case reopened and will do anything to keep the truth from coming to light.
Reading one of Michael Connelly's books featuring Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch is a sure thing. Readers are guaranteed a roller coaster ride story showcasing how brilliant these two men are at ferreting out the truth and successfully getting justice. I also like how Connelly has dealt with the aging Harry Bosch. Yes, his advancing years are affecting him, but he's still more than capable of playing a vital role in any pursuit of truth. And as far as Mickey Haller is concerned, by the book's end, he's reached a crossroads, and I'm looking forward to seeing which road he takes.
I don't care what format I choose to read Connelly's books. Still, after having enjoyed Amazon's TV series, Bosch, I have to admit that I have a bit of a preference for the audiobook version so I can listen to Titus Welliver. (Love his voice!) 

Are you in the mood for a compelling investigation and riveting courtroom drama? Get your hands on Resurrection Walk.

Resurrection Walk by Michael Connelly
Narrated by Peter Giles, Titus Welliver, and Christine Lakin
Little, Brown & Company © 2023
Audiobook. 10 hours and 30 minutes.
Legal Thriller, #7 Lincoln Lawyer thriller
Rating: A
Source: Audible.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

On My Radar: Stuart Turton's The Last Murder at the Edge of the World!


Stuart Turton is one of those authors who's been on my radar for awhile now. He has the sort of inventive mind that comes up with stories that intrigue me. With his next book to be released, he's created an idea that's really caught my imagination, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy so I can read it. It's the sort of book that may not be everyone's cup of tea, but once in a blue moon, I like to read a story about what would happen if the world was coming to an end. I know. See what I mean about it not being everyone's cup of tea? Let me tell you more about it.

Available May 21, 2024!


"Solve the murder to save what's left of the world.

Outside the island there is nothing: the world was destroyed by a fog that swept the planet, killing anyone it touched.

On the island: it is idyllic. One hundred and twenty-two villagers and three scientists, living in peaceful harmony. The villagers are content to fish, farm and feast, to obey their nightly curfew, to do what they're told by the scientists.

Until, to the horror of the islanders, one of their beloved scientists is found brutally stabbed to death. And then they learn that the murder has triggered a lowering of the security system around the island, the only thing that was keeping the fog at bay. If the murder isn't solved within 107 hours, the fog will smother the island—and everyone on it.

But the security system has also wiped everyone's memories of exactly what happened the night before, which means that someone on the island is a murderer—and they don't even know it.

And the clock is ticking."

The end of the world. A deadly fog. A locked room, err... island. A faulty security system. A clock ticking down... Sounds to me that this would make a good movie, too. What do you think?