Wednesday, January 29, 2020

February 2020 New Mystery Releases!

Denis and I went to The Poisoned Pen Bookstore last Thursday, and I think I was too excited about getting out of the house for non-medical reasons because I forgot to take my voice recorder to record the event. Shame on me! I'll just have to try something different to share the event with you sometime in the near future.

When owner Barbara Peters learned that I was doing much better, she said, "Does this mean we'll be seeing more of you?" I certainly hope so, but in the meantime let me share my picks of the new crime fiction that's being released during the month of February. I've grouped them by their release dates, and the covers and synopses are courtesy of Amazon. Let's see if I managed to choose a book or two that tickles your fancy!

~~~ February 4 ~~~

Title: Things in Jars
Author: Jess Kidd
Standalone historical thriller set in Victorian London.
384 pages

Synopsis: "Bridie Devine—female detective extraordinaire—is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.

Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot-tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.

Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.

Title: The Case of the Reincarnated Client
Author: Tarquin Hall
Series: #5 in the humorous Vish Puri private investigator series set in New Delhi, India
240 pages

Synopsis: "When a young woman comes forward claiming to be the reincarnation of Riya Kaur, a wife and mother who vanished during the bloody 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Puri is dismissive. He's busy enough dealing with an irate matrimonial client whose daughter is complaining about her groom’s thunderous snoring. Puri's indomitable Mummy-ji however is adamant the client is genuine. How else could she so accurately describe under hypnosis Riya Kaur's life and final hours?

Driven by a sense of duty - the original case was his late father’s - Puri manages to acquire the police file only to find that someone powerful has orchestrated a cover-up. Forced into an alliance with his mother that tests his beliefs and high blood pressure as never before, it’s only by delving into the past the help of his reincarnated client that Puri can hope to unlock the truth.

Title: The Wages of Sin
Author: Judith Cutler
Series: #1 in the Matthew Rowsley historical series set in Victorian England.
240 pages

Synopsis: "Newly appointed as land agent to the youthful Lord Croft, Matthew Rowsley finds plenty to keep him busy as he attends to his lordship’s neglected country estate. But he’s distracted from his tasks by the disappearance of a young housemaid. Has Maggie really eloped with a young man, as her mother attests – or is the truth rather more sinister? What’s been going on behind the scenes at the grand country estate … and where has his lordship disappeared to?

Teaming up with housekeeper Mrs. Faulkner to get to the bottom of the matter, Matthew uncovers a number of disturbing secrets, scandals, and simmering tensions within the household. Something rotten is going on at Thorncroft – and it’s up to Matthew and Mrs. Faulkner to unearth the truth.

Title: A Cold Trail
Author: Robert Dugoni
Series: #7 in the Tracy Crosswhite police procedural series set in Washington state
357 pages

Synopsis: "The last time homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite was in Cedar Grove, it was to see her sister’s killer put behind bars. Now she’s returned for a respite and the chance to put her life back in order for herself, her attorney husband, Dan, and their new daughter. But tragic memories soon prove impossible to escape.

Dan is drawn into representing a local merchant whose business is jeopardized by the town’s revitalization. And Tracy is urged by the local PD to put her own skills to work on a new case: the brutal murder of a police officer’s wife and local reporter who was investigating a cold-case slaying of a young woman. As Tracy’s and Dan’s cases crisscross, Tracy’s trail becomes dangerous. It’s stirring up her own haunted past and a decades-old conspiracy in Cedar Grove that has erupted in murder. Getting to the truth is all that matters. But what’s Tracy willing to risk as a killer gets closer to her and threatens everyone she loves?"

~~~ February 11 ~~~

Title: The Only Child
Author: Mi-ae Seo
Standalone thriller set in Korea
304 pages

Synopsis: "Criminal psychologist Seonkyeong receives an unexpected call one day. Yi Byeongdo, a serial killer whose gruesome murders shook the world, wants to be interviewed. Yi Byeongdo, who has refused to speak to anyone until now, asks specifically for her. Seonkyeong agrees out of curiosity. 

That same day Hayeong, her husband’s eleven-year-old daughter from a previous marriage shows up at their door after her grandparents, with whom she lived after her mother passed away, die in a sudden fire. Seonkyeong wants her to feel at home but is gradually unnerved as the young girl says very little and acts strangely. 

At work and at home, Seonkyeong starts to unravel the pasts of the two new arrivals in her life and begins to see startling similarities. Hayeong looks at her the same way Yi Byeongdo does when he recounts the abuse he experienced as a child; Hayeong’s serene expression masks a temper that she can’t control. Plus, the story she tells about her grandparents’ death, and her mother’s before that, deeply troubles Seonkyeong. So much so that Yi Byeongdo picks up on it and starts giving her advice. 

Written with exquisite precision and persistent creepiness, The Only Child is psychological suspense at its very best.

Title: Above the Bay of Angels
Author: Rhys Bowen
Standalone historical mystery set in Victorian France
347 pages

Synopsis: "Isabella Waverly only means to comfort the woman felled on a London street. In her final dying moments, she thrusts a letter into Bella’s hand. It’s an offer of employment in the kitchens of Buckingham Palace, and everything the budding young chef desperately wants: an escape from the constrictions of her life as a lowly servant. In the stranger’s stead, Bella can spread her wings.

Arriving as Helen Barton from Yorkshire, she pursues her passion for creating culinary delights, served to the delighted Queen Victoria herself. Best of all, she’s been chosen to accompany the queen to Nice. What fortune! Until the threat of blackmail shadows Bella to the Riviera, and a member of the queen’s retinue falls ill and dies.

Having prepared the royal guest’s last meal, Bella is suspected of the poisonous crime. An investigation is sure to follow. Her charade will be over. And her new life will come crashing down—if it doesn’t send her to the gallows."

Title: American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI
336 pages

Synopsis: "Berkeley, California, 1933. In a lab filled with curiosities--beakers, microscopes, Bunsen burners, and hundreds upon hundreds of books--sat an investigator who would go on to crack at least two thousand cases in his forty-year career. Known as the "American Sherlock Holmes," Edward Oscar Heinrich was one of America's greatest--and first--forensic scientists, with an uncanny knack for finding clues, establishing evidence, and deducing answers with a skill that seemed almost supernatural.

Heinrich was one of the nation's first expert witnesses, working in a time when the turmoil of Prohibition led to sensationalized crime reporting and only a small, systematic study of evidence. However with his brilliance, and commanding presence in both the courtroom and at crime scenes, Heinrich spearheaded the invention of a myriad of new forensic tools that police still use today, including blood spatter analysis, ballistics, lie-detector tests, and the use of fingerprints as courtroom evidence. His work, though not without its serious--some would say fatal--flaws, changed the course of American criminal investigation.

Based on years of research and thousands of never-before-published primary source materials, American Sherlock captures the life of the man who pioneered the science our legal system now relies upon--as well as the limits of those techniques and the very human experts who wield them.

Title: Play the Red Queen
Author: Juris Jurjevics
Standalone historical mystery set in Vietnam
360 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.

Synopsis: "Viet Nam, 1963. A female Viet Cong assassin is trawling the boulevards of Saigon, catching US Army officers off-guard with a single pistol shot, then riding off on the back of a scooter. Although the US military is not officially in combat, sixteen thousand American servicemen are stationed in Viet Nam “advising” the military and government. Among them are Ellsworth Miser and Clovis Robeson, two army investigators who have been tasked with tracking down the daring killer.

Set in the besieged capital of a new nation on the eve of the coup that would bring down the Diem regime and launch the Americans into the Viet Nam War, Play the Red Queen is Juris Jurjevics’s capstone contribution to a lifelong literary legacy: a tour-de-force mystery-cum-social history, breathtakingly atmospheric and heartbreakingly alive with the laws and lawlessness of war.

~~~ February 18 ~~~

Title: The Lucky One
Standalone thriller set in the US Midwest
400 pages

Synopsis: "Most people who go missing are never found. But Alice was the lucky one... 

As a child, Alice was stolen from her backyard in a tiny Indiana community, but against the odds, her policeman father tracked her down within twenty-four hours and rescued her from harm. In the aftermath of the crime, her family decided to move to Chicago and close the door on that horrible day.

Yet Alice hasn’t forgotten. She devotes her spare time volunteering for a website called The Doe Pages scrolling through pages upon pages of unidentified people, searching for clues that could help reunite families with their missing loved ones. When a face appears on Alice’s screen that she recognizes, she’s stunned to realize it’s the same man who kidnapped her decades ago. The post is deleted as quickly as it appeared, leaving Alice with more questions than answers.

Embarking on a search for the truth, she enlists the help of friends from The Doe Pages to connect the dots and find her kidnapper before he hurts someone else. Then Alice crosses paths with Merrily Cruz, another woman who’s been hunting for answers of her own. Together, they begin to unravel a dark, painful web of lies that will change what they thought they knew—and could cost them everything.

Twisting and compulsively readable, The Lucky One explores the lies we tell ourselves to feel safe.

~~~ February 25 ~~~

Title: The King's Justice
Series: #9 in the Maggie Hope historical series set in World War II London
352 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.

Synopsis: "Maggie Hope started out as Winston Churchill’s secretary, but now she’s a secret agent—and the only one who can figure out how the missing instrument ties into the murders.

London, December 1942. As the Russian army repels German forces from Stalingrad, Maggie Hope takes a much-needed break from spying to defuse bombs in London. But Maggie herself is an explosion waiting to happen. Traumatized by her past, she finds herself living dangerously—taking huge risks, smoking, drinking, and speeding through the city streets on a motorbike. The last thing she wants is to get entangled in another crime.

But when she’s called upon to look into the theft of a Stradivarius, one of the finest violins ever made, Maggie can’t resist. Meanwhile, there’s a serial killer on the loose in London, targeting conscientious objectors. Little does she know that investigating this dangerous predator will pit her against a new evil—and old enemies. Only Maggie can uncover the connection between the robbery, the murders, and a link to her past.

There are some very good books being released during the month of February! Which ones of my picks tickled your fancy? Inquiring minds would love to know!


  1. Oh, no, you didn't -- add to the TBR list here. Yes, you did.
    Several books tickle my fancy. Have to write them down.

    Am enjoying Lily and Hildy and soon, Marvena. Jess Montgomery really understands the issues so many women face -- and I'm only 50 pages into The Hollows.

    1. Good to hear that The Hollows has already dragged you under!

  2. Oooh, a new Tarquin Hall! And Rhys Bowen has a new standalone! That is great news. My TBR doesn't think so, but I do. Thanks, Cathy, and I am so happy that you got to get out and go to the PP. So good to know you're making progress.

    1. More progress this week: another trip to The Poisoned Pen AND a trip to the zoo! Yippee!!!!

  3. I'm a fan of Jess Kidd, and I really enjoyed Things in Jars--weird, but wonderful. I'm interested in American Sherlock and The Lucky One!

    1. The author or American Sherlock will be at The Poisoned Pen, and I'm thinking about going to see her.

  4. The new Dugoni was already on my list, but you've added the Judith Cutler, and American Sherlock as well.

    So glad you're doing better, and I'm sure that getting to PP was a boost to your recovery as well!

  5. The Only Child and The Lucky One go on the TBR list.

  6. And I'll read an earlier book by Dugoni to start with. To me, a legal mystery can hardly go wrong.

  7. Also, The Plea by Steve Cavanagh is as good as Thirteen. I love his legal mysteries and humor.

    1. I just bought the first Eddie Flynn book (...The Defense?) a couple of days ago.


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