Wednesday, November 25, 2020

December 2020 New Mystery Releases!


2020 is the only year I've ever wanted to fly by. Sometimes it felt as though time were moving glacially slow and at others, it was supersonic.

There have been many changes in all our lives this year, many of them unwelcome, but I know if we just buckle down and do what's right for us all, we'll make our way out of the tunnel and be back in the high life again. (Sorry, that song's an earworm this afternoon.)

The following list contains my picks of the  best new crime fiction being released throughout the month of December. The books are grouped by release date, and the covers and synopses are courtesy of Amazon.

Let's see if any of my picks have made it to your own personal Must Read lists!

=== December 1 ===
Title: The Opium Prince
Author: Jasmine Aimaq
Standalone thriller set in Afghanistan
384 pages
Synopsis: "Afghanistan, 1970s. Born to an American mother and a late Afghan war hero, Daniel Sajadi has spent his life navigating a complex identity. After years in Los Angeles, he is returning home to Kabul at the helm of a US foreign aid agency dedicated to eradicating the poppy fields that feed the world’s opiate addiction.
But on the drive out of Kabul for an anniversary trip with his wife, Daniel accidentally hits and kills a young Kochi girl named Telaya. He is let off with a nominal fine, in part because nomad tribes are ignored in the eyes of the law, but also because a mysterious witness named Taj Maleki intercedes on his behalf. Wracked with guilt and visions of Telaya, Daniel begins to unravel, running from his crumbling marriage and escalating threats from Taj, who turns out to be a powerful opium khan willing to go to extremes to save his poppies.
This groundbreaking literary thriller reveals the invisible lines between criminal enterprises and political regimes—and one man’s search for meaning at the heart of a violent revolution.

Title: Murder Is a Must
Series: #2 in the First Edition Library cozy series set in Bath, England.
336 pages

Synopsis: "Hayley Burke, curator of Lady Fowling's collection of first edition mysteries, is settling into her position at the First Edition Library in Middlebank House. She's even made progress with Lady Fowling's former secretary, the ornery Miss Woolgar. The women are busily preparing for an exhibition that will showcase Lady Fowling's life and letters. Hayley knows the exhibition is a huge undertaking and decides, against her better judgement, to hire Oona Atherton, her former boss from the Jane Austen Centre to help with the planning.
Oona is known for being difficult, but all seems to be going swimmingly until she and Hayley uncover a one-page letter that alludes to a priceless edition of MURDER MUST ADVERTISE signed by several Golden Age of Mystery authors. Oona feels this book could be the focal point of the exhibition and becomes obsessed with finding it.
When they find clues that appear to point to the book being somewhere in the First Edition Library, Oona is certain she's unraveled the mystery and texts Hayley the good news, but upon arriving back at Middlebank, Hayley finds her old boss dead at the bottom of the stairs. Did her discovery of the rare book get her killed or was it some angry shadow from her past? Hayley must read between the lines to catch a malicious murderer."
Title: Poppy Redfern and the Fatal Flyers
Author: Tessa Arlen
Series: #2 in the historical Woman of World War II series set in England.
320 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "It is the late autumn of 1942. Our indomitable heroine Poppy Redfern is thoroughly immersed in her new job as a scriptwriter at the London Crown Film Unit, which produces short films featuring British civilians who perform acts of valor and heroism in wartime. After weeks of typing copy and sharpening pencils, Poppy is thrilled to receive her first solo script project: a fifteen-minute film about the Air Transport Auxiliary, known as Attagirls, a group of female civilians who have been trained to pilot planes from factories to military airfields all over Britain.

Poppy could not be more excited to spend time with these amazing ladies, but she never expects to see one of the best pilots die in what is being labeled an accident. When another Attagirl meets a similar fate, Poppy and her American fighter-pilot boyfriend, Griff, believe foul play may be at work. They soon realize that a murderer with a desire for revenge is dead set on grounding the Attagirls for good. . . .
Title: Accra Noir
Edited by Nana-Ama Danquah
Short Story Anthology set in Ghana.
256 pages
Synopsis: "Accra is one of the most well-known cities on the African continent. It's the capital of Ghana, which in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan (read: black) nation to gain its independence from colonialism. But the city, in all its globalism, predates the nation. Prior to becoming a sovereign land, the area now known as Ghana was the Gold Coast colony. In 1877, when the British took possession of the colony, Accra was installed as its capital. For nearly a century, in addition to being a political and financial center, the city was a major trade hub. People came from Europe and other African nations to trade everything from gold and salt to guns and slaves...

One thing that people, too easily seduced by the city's charm and history and beauty, forget about Accra is that it is a major metropolis. Accra is New York; it is Los Angeles; it is Shanghai, Mexico City, Santiago, Caracas, and Cape Town. It is an urban area, with poverty, desperation, and the inevitable result of a marriage between the two: crime...

The stories that you will read in this collection highlight all things Accra, everything that the city was and is--the remaining vestiges of colonialism, the pride of independence, the nexus of indigenous tribes and other groups from all over the world, the tension between modernity and traditionalism, the symbolism and storytelling both obvious and coded, the moral high ground, the duplicity and deceit, the most basic human failings laid bare alongside fear and love and pain and the corrupting desire to have the very things you are not meant to have."
Title: Premeditated Mortar
Series: #8 in the Fixer-Upper cozy series set in California.
304 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "Shannon Hammer is about to embark on one of the biggest projects of her career. Her best friend Jane Hennessey has purchased one wing of the Gables, formerly the old state insane asylum, located on a bucolic hillside two miles northeast of Lighthouse Cove. Jane plans to turn her section into a small luxury hotel complete with twenty ocean-view rooms, a spa, and a restaurant.

Shannon is raring to get started on the enormous project and is shocked when a group of unruly protesters shows up at the groundbreaking ceremony and wreaks havoc. She’s even more freaked-out when someone pushes her into a pit of bricks in a closed-off room of the asylum. Despite her close call, Shannon wants nothing more than to get back to work . . . until she finds a body not far from where she was pushed. Now Shannon is determined to get to the bottom of the goings-on at the Gables even if it kills her. . . .
=== December 3 ===
Title: The Fatal Flying Affair
Author: T.E. Kinsey
Series: #8 in the Lady Hardcastle historical series set at the turn of the twentieth century in England.
315 pages
Synopsis: "August 1911. Emily Hardcastle and her inimitable lady’s maid Florence Armstrong are enjoying a fine summer until Harry, Lady H’s brother, turns up out of the blue with a mystery for them to solve.

A routine parachute test at a local aeroplane factory has gone horribly wrong—with pilot Dickie Dupree plummeting to his death. Harry is certain there is more to this ‘tragic accident’ than meets the eye, having discovered that someone at the airfield is leaking top secret intelligence to foreign rivals.

In between strolls to the Dog & Duck and planning for the annual village show, the daring duo dust off the Crime Board and go undercover at Bristol Aviation. With international powers investing heavily in aeronautics, the stakes are high—sky high—and the suspects soon mount up.

Can Lady Hardcastle find the culprit before someone else falls down dead?"
=== December 8 ===
Title: Snowdrift
Author: Helene Tursten
Series: #3 in the Embla Nyström police procedural series set in Sweden.
384 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "One winter night, 28-year-old Detective Inspector Embla Nyström receives a phone call that sends her reeling. It’s been fourteen years since her best friend disappeared from a nightclub in Gothenburg, but Embla recognizes her voice before the call abruptly disconnects. Embla is thrilled to learn Lollo is still alive, but before she can dive into the case, she gets another phone call—this time from a relative. A man has been found shot dead in one of the guest houses he and his wife manage in rural Sweden. Could she come take a look?

When Embla arrives on the scene, she receives another shock. The dead man is Milo Stavic, a well-known gang member and one of the last people seen with Lollo. And, as Embla soon learns, the same night that Milo was shot in the guest house, his brother Luca was also killed. Why, after all these years, is someone targeting the Stavic brothers, and where is the third brother? With help from a handsome local detective and his police dog in training, Embla launches an investigation into the three Stavic brothers, hoping it will bring her closer to finally finding Lollo and putting an end to her terrible nightmares.

Title: Cold Wind
Series: #2 in the Alaska Wild amateur sleuth series set in Alaska.
304 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "Beth Rivers is still in Alaska. The unidentified man who kidnapped her in her home of St. Louis hasn’t been found yet, so she’s not ready to go back.

But as October comes to a close, Benedict is feeling more and more like her new home. Beth has been working on herself: She’s managed to get back to writing, and she’s enjoying these beautiful months between summer and winter in Alaska.

Then, everything in Benedict changes after a mudslide exposes a world that had been hidden for years. Two mud-covered, silent girls appear, and a secret trapper’s house is found in the woods. The biggest surprise, though, is a dead and frozen woman’s body in the trapper’s shed. No one knows who she is, but the man who runs the mercantile, Randy, seems to be in the middle of all the mysteries.

Unable to escape her journalistic roots, Beth is determined to answer the questions that keep arising: Are the mysterious girls and the frozen body connected? Can Randy possibly be involved? And―most importantly―can she solve this mystery before the cold wind sweeping over the town and the townspeople descends for good?

=== December 10 ===

Title: Winterkill
Series: #6 in the Ari Thor/Dark Iceland police procedural series set in Iceland.
276 pages
Synopsis: "When the body of a nineteen-year-old girl is found on the main street of Siglufjörður, Police Inspector Ari Thór battles a violent Icelandic storm in an increasingly dangerous hunt for her killer … The chilling, claustrophobic finale to the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.

Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.

Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…

As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.

=== December 29 ===

Title: Absence of Alice
Series: #9 in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale cozy series set in Massachusetts.
288 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "Sarah's latest client, Alice Krandle, is sure she has a fortune in antiques on her hands. She's already gotten a generous offer for the whole lot before her garage sale has even begun, but she thinks she can earn more with Sarah's expert help. The problem is that while Sarah's sorting through items from decades past, her landlady, Stella, faces a clear and present danger.

Stella's kidnapper has contacted Sarah with a set of instructions, and "Don't call the police" is at the top of the list. But they didn't say anything about Sarah's friend Harriet--who happens to be a former F.B.I. hostage negotiator...

Title: A Wicked Yarn
Author: Emmie Caldwell
Series: #1 in Craft Fair Knitters cozy series.
304 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.

Synopsis: "Mother's Day should be a cinch for the good folks of the Crandalsburg Craft Fair, and knitting enthusiast Lia Geiger has a good feeling about this year's yield. But things quickly get knotty when Lia's daughter announces she's quit her job and Lia finds herself tangled up in the murder of her best friend's ex-husband. While Belinda's alibi quickly gets her off the hook, nasty rumors spread throughout Crandalsburg that shroud the entire fair in suspicion.

Could the vendors be responsible for the murder of a man hell-bent on unraveling the fair just days before his death? Lia and her crafty group of Ninth Street Knitters must put down their needles to gather clues and save the crafting community they've grown to love.

This is a rather eclectic list of mysteries, isn't it? There should definitely be something for everyone on it, and I like the fact that it contains a nice mix of my favorite authors as well as brand-new ones. 

Did any of the books tickle your fancy? Which ones? Inquiring minds would love to know!


  1. Seeing the new Ragnar Jonasson and Helene Tursten books for Dec. is exciting. I won't know which to read first, and my library has both of them on order - FUN! Thanks for the Dec. heads-up Cathy. And the Ghana short-stories looks very interesting as well as the Poppy Redfern one.
    Stay safe and Happy Thanksgiving. Ev

  2. I always love it when there's a new Helene Tursten to enjoy, Cathy. She really is talented and she draws characters very well, I think. Looking forward to that one!

    1. I agree. Tursten is very talented, especially with her characterizations.

  3. There are several I'm interested in, and since I enjoyed the first Poppy Redfern, it is definitely on my list!

  4. I'm glad to see the next Paige Shelton Alaska mystery! And I don't recall ever reading anything set in Ghana before, so the curiosity factor may outweigh my usual bias against short stories, at least enough to borrow it from the library.

    And Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Happy Thanksgiving, Kate!

      Kwei Quartey has written a police procedural series set in Ghana featuring Darko Dawson. The first book in the series is Wife of the Gods. He's also started another series set there featuring a female private detective named Emma Djan. The first book in that series is The Missing American. Quartey is Ghanian. He tells a good story, and I've learned a lot about the country and the culture from reading his mysteries.

    2. I appreciate the reminder about Quartey's books - I have both of the titles you mentioned on my list of books to try. It must be time to pick up at least one of them ...

  5. The Accra Noir and Helene Tursten books look good, and also the Paige Shelton. I'm not crazy about cozies, but I love the punny titles and artwork.
    Happy Thanksgiving. I'll be watching the streaming of the National Day of Mourning, commemorated by Indigenous peoples in various cities. Friends are organizing the mostly virtual event from Plymouth, Mass.

    1. Happy Thanksgiving, Kathy. Denis and I will be spending the day watching movies, although I might sneak in a little Christmas decorating.

  6. OH, yes, you really do Christmas up grand, with so many trees and specialty ornaments and themed trees. So much work that I'm exhausted htinking about it.

    1. Christmas 2020 is the year of Christmas Ultra Lite compared to previous years. The only way I could do what I did in past years is if I had a whole crew of minions at my beck and call.

  7. But I love your photos every year.

    1. There will be some this year, too, but don't expect anything grand.

  8. Eclectic, just like us! I am looking forward to many, including Cold Wind and the new Poppy Redfern!

    1. I'm just about to open ColdWind, and I can already attest to the fact that the latest Poppy is a good'un!

  9. A Wicked Yarn? I wonder if the yarn is the murder weapon, with poison inside. That would be interesting.

    1. Something tells me that won't be the method for murder.


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