Tuesday, November 30, 2021

December 2021 New Mystery Releases!

It doesn't happen very often but when it does, I always wonder how I got myself into such a bind. What bind? It's in my review policy that I will review new books either on their release date or sometime during their first week of release. This month, five of my review books are being released on the same day, which means I have a lot of reading to do. So... I'd better get myself in gear, eh?

The following is my list pf picks for the best new crime fiction being released during the month of December. I've grouped my choices by their release dates, and the covers and synopses are courtesy of Amazon.

Let's see if I've managed to choose anything that tickles your fancy!
 


=== December 1 ===

Title: At First Light
Series: #1 in the Dr. Evan Wilding police procedural series set in Chicago. 
395 pages

*Reviewed yesterday on Kittling: Books.

Synopsis: "On the muddy banks of the Calumet River, a body has been found posed next to a series of mysterious glyphs and bearing wounds from a ritualistic slaying. Chicago detective Addie Bisset knows only one man who can decipher the message left by the killer: her friend Dr. Evan Wilding. A brilliant forensic semiotician, Evan decodes the etchings as Viking Age runes. They suggest either human sacrifice or righteous punishment. But to what god? And for what sins?

Only one thing is clear from the disturbing runic riddles: there are more victims to come.

As Evan races to determine the identity of the Viking Poet, he and Addie uncover the killer’s most terrifying secret yet: the motive. This startling discovery puts Evan’s life in mortal danger, and verse by ancient verse, time is running out."


=== December 7 ===


Title: Murder Under Her Skin
Series: #2 in the Pentecost & Parker historical series set in Virginia.
368 pages
 
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
 
Synopsis: "Someone’s put a blade in the back of the Amazing Tattooed Woman, and Willowjean “Will” Parker’s former knife-throwing mentor has been stitched up for the crime. To uncover the truth, Will and her boss, world-famous detective Lillian Pentecost, travel south to the circus where they find a snakepit of old grudges, small-town crime, and secrets worth killing for.
 
New York, 1946: The last time Will Parker let a case get personal, she walked away with a broken face, a bruised ego, and the solemn promise never again to let her heart get in the way of her job. But she called Hart and Halloway’s Travelling Circus and Sideshow home for five years, and Ruby Donner, the circus’s tattooed ingenue, was her friend. To make matters worse the prime suspect is Valentin Kalishenko, the man who taught Will everything she knows about putting a knife where it needs to go. 
 
To suss out the real killer and keep Kalishenko from a date with the electric chair, Will and Ms. Pentecost join the circus in sleepy Stoppard, Virginia, where the locals like their cocktails mild, the past buried, and big-city detectives not at all. The two swiftly find themselves lost in a funhouse of lies as Will begins to realize that her former circus compatriots aren’t playing it straight, and that her murdered friend might have been hiding a lot of secrets beneath all that ink. 

Dodging fistfights, firebombs, and flying lead, Will puts a lot more than her heart on the line in the search of the truth. Can she find it before someone stops her ticker for good?
"
 
 
Title: The Bone Cay
Standalone thriller set in the Florida Keys.
288 pages
 
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
 
Synopsis: "Magda Trudell is the present-day caretaker of Whimbrel Estate, the Key West home of the famous poet Isobel Reyes. Isobel's suicide at the residence in 1918 has nearly overshadowed her creative legacy--but Magda, a botanist and avid historian, is determined to protect it. Over the past decade, Magda has lovingly restored the house to the exact condition Isobel would have known. And even though a fierce October hurricane is headed straight for the Keys, she isn't about to abandon her life's work to evacuate.

As the mighty storm makes landfall, the dangers mount. First, a fire and flood threaten to destroy the house. Then the storm claims most of Magda's supplies. When part of the house collapses, she unearths an old steamer trunk in the rubble that contains a woman's remains. Is there more to Isobel's story than Magda knows?

The unexpected appearance of a teenage girl and her father seeking shelter from the storm poses unnerving new questions. Are they really who they seem? And could they have a connection to the house's shadowy past? As the storm rages, Magda desperately tries to solve the real mystery of Isobel's death--and keep the living in one piece.
 
 
Title: Dark Night
Series: #3 in the Alaska Wild amateur sleuth series set in Alaska.
288 pages
 
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
 
Synopsis: "Winter is falling in the remote town of Benedict, Alaska, and with the cold comes a mysterious guest. The dreaded "census man," seemingly innocuous, is an unwelcome presence to those members of this secretive community who would prefer to keep their business to themselves. Meanwhile, thriller writer Beth Rivers has received her own unexpected company: her mother. The last Beth heard, Mill Rivers had gone underground in the lower forty-eight, in search of Beth’s kidnapper, and Beth can't help but be a little alarmed at her appearance: If Mill was able to track down her daughter, who knows who else might be able to?

Beth doesn't have time to ponder this for long, after a battered woman stumbles into the town bar one night, and her husband is found dead the next morning. Suspicions immediately turn to the census man, but when he, too, goes missing, everyone in Benedict―including the police chief―is suspected, and Beth and Mill must work to uncover the truth.


Title: The Hanged Man's Tale
Author: Gerald Jay
Series: #2 in the Inspector Mazarelle police procedural series set in Paris, France.
320 pages
 
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
 
Synopsis: "A murdered man is discovered dangling inside the tunnels of a Paris canal--the only clue, the tarot card in his pockets: the Hanged Man. When an innocent suspect is railroaded into prison for the homicide, Mazarelle sets off on the hunt for the real killer.
 
For the charming, hot-tempered, impulsive Frenchman--now back from the provinces and leading his own homicide unit out of Paris’s famed Quai des Orfevres--it’s an investigation that takes him far from the comforts of Beaujolais and bouillabaisse, and plunges him into an underworld of ruthless white supremacists looking for scapegoats in Paris’s growing immigrant community, corrupt cops eager to cover up a shady side business, and a conspiracy of secrets that threaten his own life.
 
Meanwhile, Claire Girard, an irresistible and ambitious journalist at a popular tabloid, is wrapped up in the same story. On the trail of the Tarot Card killer, Mazarelle finds himself blindsided by their growing attraction. And when his team’s case collides with Girard's latest scoop, and the body count keeps rising, Mazarelle himself becomes a prime suspect who must clear his own name. Gerald Jay’s latest Mazarelle adventure is a riveting, fast-paced thriller about a classic French detective making his way through the dangerous streets of a very modern world.


Title: Absence of Mallets
Series: #9 in the Fixer-Upper cozy series set in California.
304 pages
 
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
 
Synopsis: "Shannon could not be happier that her hunky thriller-writing boyfriend, Mac, has moved in, and it is a good thing they are living together because they are both busier than ever. Mac is hosting writing retreats at his now vacant lighthouse mansion, while Shannon and her crew build Homefront, a quaint Victorian village of tiny homes for veterans in need. Mac’s latest guests are proving to be a handful though, and Shannon has heard some grumbling from the luminaries of Lighthouse Cove about her latest passion project. But nothing can throw a wrench in their plans except a malicious murder.

When one of Shannon’s new friends is found brutally bludgeoned with a mallet near the lighthouse on Mac’s property, the couple hammers out a suspect list and searches for a motive. As they drill deeper for clues, more violence strikes and a new victim winds up in a coma. The pressure is on, and Shannon and Mac will have to move fast to find an unhinged killer dead set on demolishing anyone who gets in their way. . .


Title: Bryant & May: London Bridge Is Falling Down
Series: #18 in the Peculiar Crimes Unit serio-comic police procedural series set in London.
464 pages

Synopsis: "When ninety-one-year-old Amelia Hoffman dies in her top-floor flat on a busy London road, it’s considered an example of what has gone wrong with modern society: she slipped through the cracks in a failing system.

But detectives Arthur Bryant and John May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit have their doubts. Mrs. Hoffman was once a government security expert, though no one can quite remember her. When a link emerges between the old lady and a diplomat trying to flee the country, it seems that an impossible murder has been committed.
 
Mrs. Hoffman wasn’t the only one at risk. Bryant is convinced that other forgotten women with hidden talents are also in danger. And, curiously, they all own models of London Bridge.
 
With the help of some of their more certifiable informants, the detectives follow the strangest of clues in an investigation that will lead them through forgotten alleyways to the city’s oldest bridge in search of a desperate killer.
 
But just when the case appears to be solved, they discover that Mrs. Hoffman was smarter than anyone imagined. There’s a bigger game afoot that could have terrible consequences.
"


Title: Stitched in Crime
Series: #2 in the Craft Fair Knitters cozy series set in Pennsylvania.
304 pages
 
Synopsis: "The Craft Fair may have hit a few snags lately, but knitting enthusiast Lia Geiger is hopeful her quiet life will return to its usual patterns in no time. Her daughter has officially moved back home, and sure, the house is a little crowded with Hayley's take-home work from the alpaca farm, but that's a price Lia will happily pay. All seems well until Cori Littlefield, a new vendor with a gift for crochet, is found dead, sending shock waves through all of Crandalsburg.

What begins as a tragic accident turns into a snarled spool of lies that only the combined efforts of the Ninth Street Knitters can untangle. When Lia makes a connection between Cori's death and a decades-old murder, it's up to her to weave together the clues and find the truth.
"


Looks like there's a little something for everyone in December. Let's talk covers and titles for a minute...

My favorite cover is The Bone Cay with Absence of Mallets a close second. For those who like a little menace on their crime fiction covers, I don't think you can go wrong with Paige Shelton's Dark Night. (Not only menace but a touch a frostbite!) And Kate Carlisle has one of the most inventive minds for book titles. I love the title Absence of Mallets! American cozies have two Must-Haves: fantastic covers and inventive (often punny) titles. I may not buy many, but I love scanning the cozy table at The Poisoned Pen just to take a look at the covers and titles.

What about you folks? Which of my choices are on your own personal wish lists? You know that inquiring minds would love to know!

19 comments:

  1. What I find really interesting about this month's crop of new releases is that (except for the Fowler, which should be good!), a lot of the authors are new to me, Cathy. It's enough to set your head spinning to think of how many authors and books there are out there. At the same time, though, I do really like finding new-to-me authors to explore And some of these do look good!

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    1. I've always loved finding new authors to explore!

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  2. I can't say that any of these are on my TBR list. But I do love a good cozy mystery and The Absence of Mallets does have a great cover and title. Stitched in Crime is a fun cover as well. I also found myself drawn to the cover of London Bridge is Falling Down. Both the cover and the title make me want to know more.

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    1. Kate Carlisle's Fixer-Upper series is a good one, and I've read the first book in Caldwell's series and enjoyed it. Fowler's Bryant & May series is a lot of fun.

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  3. How in the world do we get ourselves into spots like the one you're in now? I always tend to over-commit to reviews, especially when several of my favorites come along in the same month...but five in one week? Wow. I'm pulling for you. :-)

    I love the cover of The Hanged Man's Tale because it reminds me of something out of a deck of old playing cards. Lots of good stuff coming in December, looks like...just what I need. LOL

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    1. The cover you mention does show one of a deck of tarot cards.

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  4. Several of these sound interesting. I love the Lavender scarf on the Bryant & May cover!

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  5. That's quite a bit of potentially interesting reading. I've read a few of the Bryant and May mysteries and enjoyed them so I might especially look out for that one.

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    1. Yes, the Bryant & May series is one that I really need to get caught up with.

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  6. How have I not heard about Inspector Mazarelle before?! He's in my favorite city, so I'll be looking for the 1st in that series as soon as I finish this note.

    I already knew about the first two titles you mentioned, but was excited to learn about Paige Shelton's newest. I agree with you about the quality of The Bone Cay cover, and am interested in that one as well.

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    1. Sounds like you're going to be busy reading some of my reviews once I've written and posted them. :-)

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  7. My eyes lit up when I saw the Spotswood book and the Chicago/Viking link in At First Light.
    Lots of good ones to choose from once I get over post-good-book slump after bidding adieu to Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch in The Dark Hours.
    I also have library reserves to pick up. I have work to do, but wouldn't I rather curl up with tea, chocolate and mysteries. The answer is obvious.

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    1. I've almost finished The Dark Hours myself.

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  8. I hope you like it as much as I do. And the ending put me into a sense of duality. Should Renee Ballard follow one career path or another? Maybe this question will answer keep readers in limbo.

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    1. I'm gong through one of those periods when the real world is demanding more of my time than I'd like to give it, so I haven't finished reading it yet.

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  9. Ugh. The real world. The fictional one is often so much easier and less stressful, except for the characters.

    But I find when I'm stressed out, in a bad mood, it goes away after about five pages in a good book. Emphasis on good.

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    1. Yes, indeed it does. Books have often been my saviors.

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  10. Yes, that and chocolate. My escapes.

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Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!