Tuesday, December 27, 2022

January 2023 New Mystery Releases!

Although I felt that vast sections of 2022 crept by at a snail's pace, I'm still astonished that 2023 is staring me right in the face. How does that happen? Something tells me that I'll never figure it out.

The monster storms that are plaguing the rest of the country have left the Phoenix area alone. We're not having our usual balmy late fall/early winter weather; however, with temperatures seeming determined to stay in the 50s and 60s. I still get perverse enjoyment from seeing fellow desert dwellers bundled up as if they're venturing out into the Arctic tundra.
While I chuckle at all the scarves, knit hats, gloves, and heavy winter coats, I still keep an eye peeled for new mysteries to read-- but of course you knew that already!
The following are my picks of the best new crime fiction being released in January. I've grouped them according to their release dates, and the covers and synopses are courtesy of the Amazon showroom. Let's see if any of my choices tickle your fancy, too.
=== January 3 ===
Title: Fatal Fascinator
Series: #7 in the Hat Shop cozy series set in England.
288 pages
Synopsis: "It’s wedding season and Viv’s longtime frenemy Piper May is getting married. She convinces Viv and Scarlett to take on the job of designing the headpieces for her “wedding of the year.” The well-to-do bride and her entourage are delighted to have Viv and Scarlett as their famous hat designer guests, but the hat-making pair are really just looking forward to a getaway at a castle in Sussex. It is to be a weekend full of events, culminating in the big ceremony.  
Unfortunately, on the first night of the festivities, the groom is found murdered, and the joyous holiday becomes the stuff of nightmares as no one is allowed to leave the castle until the investigation is complete. Although Scarlett assures Harrison Wentworth, her fiancé, that she and Viv will stay out of harm’s way, circumstances force them to step in when a secret affair between the deceased groom and a bridesmaid comes to light, and the murderer takes another life. Scarlett and Viv vow to unveil the killer’s identity before the wedding adds another to its death toll.
Title: Breaking the Circle
Author: M.J. Trow
Series: #2 in the Margaret Murray historical series set in 1900s England.
224 pages
Synopsis: "Dr Margaret Murray, accomplished archaeologist, and occasional sleuth, calls upon her police connections to investigate who may want to see the Edwardian mediums of London dead. Known for her sharp mind and quick wit, Margaret decides to infiltrate one of the spiritualists circles to narrow down the list of suspects. But soon the killer has Margaret in their sights! Can she capture the culprit and avoid passing beyond the veil?
Title: Blaze Me a Sun
Author: Christoffer Carlsson
Standalone police procedural set in Sweden.
448 pages
Synopsis: "In February 1986, the Halland police receive a call from a man who claims to have attacked his first victim. I’m going to do it again, he says before the line cuts off. By the time police officer Sven Jörgensson reaches the crime scene, the woman is taking her last breath. For Sven, this will prove a decisive moment. On the same night, Sweden plunges into a state of shock after the murder of the prime minister. Could there possibly be a connection?

As Sven becomes obsessed with the case, two more fall victim. For years, Sven remains haunted by the murders he cannot solve, fearing the killer will strike again. Having failed to catch him, Sven retires from the police, passing his obsession to his son, who has joined the force to be closer to his father.

Decades later, the case unexpectedly resurfaces when a novelist returns home to Halland amid a failed marriage and a sputtering career. The writer befriends the retired police officer, who helps the novelist—our narrator—unspool the many strands of this engrossing tale about a community confronting its shames and legacies.

A #1 bestseller in Sweden,
Blaze Me a Sun marks the American debut of the youngest winner of the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year award, the top prize for Swedish crime writers whose past winners include Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell.

=== January 10 ===
Title: The Game Is a Footnote
Author: Vicki Delany
Series: #8 in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop cozy series set on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
320 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "Scarlet House, now a historical re-enactment museum, is the oldest building in West London, Massachusetts. When things start moving around on their own, board members suggest that Gemma Doyle, owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, might be able to get to the bottom of it.  Gemma doesn’t believe in ghosts, but she agrees to ‘eliminate the impossible’. But when Gemma and Jayne stumble across a dead body on the property, they’re forced to consider an all too physical threat.  
Gemma and Jayne suspect foul play as they start to uncover more secrets about the museum. With the museum being a revolving door for potential killers, they have plenty of options for who might be the actual culprit.
Despite Gemma's determination not to get further involved, it would appear that once again, and much to the displeasure of Detective Ryan Ashburton, the game is afoot.
Will Gemma and Jayne be able to solve the mystery behind the haunted museum, or will they be the next to haunt it?

Title: Better the Blood
Author: Michael Bennett
Police Procedural set in New Zealand.
336 pages

Synopsis: "An absorbing, clever debut thriller that speaks to the longstanding injustices faced by New Zealand’s indigenous peoples, by an acclaimed Māori screenwriter and director.

A tenacious Māori detective, Hana Westerman juggles single motherhood, endemic prejudice, and the pressures of her career in Auckland CIB. Led to a crime scene by a mysterious video, she discovers a man ritualistically hanging in a secret room and a puzzling inward-curving inscription. Delving into the investigation after a second, apparently unrelated, death, she uncovers a chilling connection to an historic crime: 160 years before, during the brutal and bloody British colonization of New Zealand, a troop of colonial soldiers unjustly executed a Māori Chief.

Hana realizes that the murders are utu—the Māori tradition of rebalancing for the crime committed eight generations ago. There were six soldiers in the British troop, and since descendants of two of the soldiers have been killed, four more potential murders remain. Hana is thus hunting New Zealand’s first serial killer.

The pursuit soon becomes frighteningly personal, recalling the painful event, two decades before, when Hana, then a new cop, was part of a police team sent to end by force a land rights occupation by indigenous peoples on the same ancestral mountain where the Chief was killed, calling once more into question her loyalty to her roots. Worse still, a genealogical link to the British soldiers brings the case terrifyingly close to Hana’s own family. Twisty and thought-provoking, Better the Blood is the debut of a remarkable new talent in crime fiction."
Title: Reef Road
Author: Deborah Goodrich Royce
Standalone thriller set in Florida.
320 pages
Synopsis: "A young woman’s life seems perfect until her family goes missing. A writer lives alone with her dog and collects arcane murder statistics. What each of them stands to lose as they sneak around the do-not-enter tape blocking Reef Road beach is exposed by the steady tightening of the cincture encircling them.

In a nod to the true crime that inspired it, Deborah Goodrich Royce’s
Reef Road probes unhealed generational scars in a wrenching and original work of fiction. It is both stunning and sexy and, like a bystander surprised by a curtain left open, you won’t be able to look away.

=== January 17 ===
Title: The Motion Picture Teller
Standalone mystery set in Thailand.
240 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "Thailand, 1996: Supot, a postman with the Royal Thai Mail service, hates his job. The only bright spot in his life is watching classic movies with his best friend, Ali, the owner of a video store. These cinephiles adore the charisma of the old Western stars, particularly the actresses, and bemoan the state of modern Thai cinema—until a mysterious cassette, entitled Bangkok 2010, arrives at Ali’s store.

Bangkok 2010 is a dystopian film set in a near-future Thailand—and Supot and Ali, immediately obsessed, agree it’s the most brilliant Thai movie they’ve ever seen. But nobody else has ever heard of the movie, the director, the actors, or any of the crew. Who would make a movie like this and not release it, and why?

Feeling a powerful calling to solve the mystery of
Bangkok 2010, Supot journeys deep into the Thai countryside and discovers that powerful people are dead set on keeping the film buried.

=== January 24 ===
Title: Murder at a Scottish Wedding
Author: Traci Hall
Series: #4 in the Scottish Shire cozy series set on the coast of northern Scotland.
304 pages
Synopsis: "As her friend’s matron of honor, Paislee Shaw vows to solve the mystery of a missing brooch and a dying wedding guest . . . Paislee’s specialty sweater shop and yarn business Cashmere Crush, in the charming Scottish village of Nairn, is closed today for a special occasion. Her bonnie bestie Lydia is moments away from walking down the aisle of the church at Old Nairn Kirk to wed Corbin Smythe. Gramps and Paislee’s eleven-year-old son Brody are seated in the pews with the other guests—the only family not in attendance is their black Scottish terrier Wallace. As matron of honor, Paislee is at her friend’s side when Lydia lets out a frantic cry. The Luckenbooth brooch her betrothed gave her is missing. A traditional Scottish love token, the gold heirloom has been in his family for generations and not wearing it could bring bad luck—according to the superstitious Smythes. But the real misfortune falls on a distraught cousin who suddenly disrupts the ceremony and dies with the brooch in her hand. The Smythes insist it’s the curse. But Paislee must broach the subject of…murder. And was the intended victim the guest—or the bride? Only Paislee can determine who to pin the murder on . . .
Title: The Twyford Code
Standalone mystery set in England.
333 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "Forty years ago, Steven “Smithy” Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. When he showed it to his remedial English teacher Miss Iles, she believed that it was part of a secret code that ran through all of Twyford’s novels. And when she disappeared on a class field trip, Smithy became convinced that she had been right.

Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Smithy decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. In a series of voice recordings on an old iPhone from his estranged son, Smithy alternates between visiting the people of his childhood and looking back on the events that later landed him in prison.

But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code holds a great secret, and Smithy may just have the key.

“A modern Agatha Christie” (
The Sunday Times, London), Janice Hallett has constructed a fiendishly clever, maddeningly original crime novel for lovers of word games, puzzles, and stories of redemption.
Title: A Winter Grave
Author: Peter May
Standalone thriller set in Scotland in the year 2051.
368 pages
Synopsis: "It is the year 2051. Warnings of climate catastrophe have been ignored, and vast areas of the planet are under water, or uninhabitably hot. A quarter of the world's population has been displaced by hunger and flooding, and immigration wars are breaking out around the globe as refugees pour into neighboring countries.

By contrast, melting ice sheets have brought the Gulf Stream to a halt and northern latitudes, including Scotland, are being hit by snow and ice storms. It is against this backdrop that Addie, a young meteorologist checking a mountain top weather station, discovers the body of a man entombed in ice.

The dead man is investigative reporter, George Younger, missing for three months after vanishing during what he claimed was a hill-walking holiday. But Younger was no hill walker, and his discovery on a mountain-top near the Highland village of Kinlochleven, is inexplicable.

Cameron Brodie, a veteran Glasgow detective, volunteers to be flown north to investigate Younger's death, but he has more than a murder enquiry on his agenda. He has just been given a devastating medical prognosis by his doctor and knows the time has come to face his estranged daughter who has made her home in the remote Highland village.

Arriving during an ice storm, Brodie and pathologist Dr. Sita Roy, find themselves the sole guests at the inappropriately named International Hotel, where Younger's body has been kept refrigerated in a cake cabinet. But evidence uncovered during his autopsy places the lives of both Brodie and Roy in extreme jeopardy.

As another storm closes off communications and the possibility of escape, Brodie must face up not only to the ghosts of his past, but to a killer determined to bury forever the chilling secret that George Younger's investigations had threatened to expose."
=== January 31 ===
Title: The Drift
Author: C.J. Tudor
Standalone thriller set in high in the mountains in the winter.
352 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "Hannah awakens to carnage, all mangled metal and shattered glass. Evacuated from a secluded boarding school during a snowstorm, her coach careered off the road, trapping her with a handful of survivors. They’ll need to work together to escape—with their sanity and secrets intact.

Meg awakens to a gentle rocking. She’s in a cable car stranded high above snowy mountains, with five strangers and no memory of how they got on board. They are heading to a place known only as “The Retreat,” but as the temperature drops and tensions mount, Meg realizes they may not all make it there alive.

Carter is gazing out the window of an isolated ski chalet that he and his companions call home. As their generator begins to waver in the storm, something hiding in the chalet’s depths threatens to escape, and their fragile bonds will be tested when the power finally fails—for good.

The imminent dangers faced by Hannah, Meg, and Carter are each one part of the puzzle. Lurking in their shadows is an even greater danger—one with the power to consume all of humanity.
Title: Exiles
Author: Jane Harper
Series: #3 in the Aaron Falk police procedural series set in Australia.
368 pages
*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.
Synopsis: "Federal Investigator Aaron Falk is on his way to a small town deep in Southern Australian wine country for the christening of an old friend's baby. But mystery follows him, even on vacation.

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of Kim Gillespie's disappearance. One year ago, at a busy town festival on a warm spring night, Kim safely tucked her sleeping baby into her stroller, then vanished into the crowd. No one has seen her since. When Kim's older daughter makes a plea for anyone with information about her missing mom to come forward, Falk and his old buddy Raco can't leave the case alone.

As Falk soaks up life in the lush valley, he is welcomed into the tight-knit circle of Kim’s friends and loved ones. But the group may be more fractured than it seems. Between Falk’s closest friend, the missing mother, and a woman he’s drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge. What would make a mother abandon her child? What happened to Kim Gillespie?

From light to dark, from new to old, from right here in the U.S. of A. to much farther afield, there seems to be something for everyone in January, doesn't there?
I was thrilled to see a new book by one of my favorite authors, Colin Cotterill; I've been waiting for one way too long. The premise of The Twyford Code has fascinated me since the first time I read it, and it's always great to see a new book from Australian writer Jane Harper.

Were any of these books already on your Need-to-Read lists? Did I persuade you to add any? Which ones? Inquiring minds would love to know!


  1. Oh, such good 'uns coming up this month, Cathy! I'm especially pleased to see a new Delany (she's both really talented and prolific - how does she do that?), a new Harper, a new Cotterill, and a new May. I see a few other interesting ones, too. This looks to be some fine reading!

    1. It certainly does! And I agree with you about Delany-- how on earth does she do it??

  2. It makes me chuckle to think of your fellow desert dwellers running around in hats and scarves as well. Although, I also chuckle when my fellow tundra dwellers run around in shorts when the temps reach the 40's. It's all relative I guess. As far as new books coming out, there are some good ones. I've recently been hearing good things about the Hat Shop Mysteries. I'm looking forward to your review of The Game is a Footnote - a series on my TBR. And I am intrigued by The Motion Picture Teller - sounds like an interesting story in a unique setting.

    1. I've enjoyed Delany's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series from its beginning; it's my favorite of her series.

      Cotterill isn't to everyone's taste. I love his storytelling, and he has a wonderful sense of humor, but sometimes it's a bit anti-American, and that can get some folks' backs up.

  3. Yes to Breaking the Circle, Reef Road and A Winter Grave! Those all look and sound so good, I know I want to read them. And I'm curious about The Drift...and to know what you thought of it. :D

  4. I recognize quite a few of these titles, and your upcoming reviews will help me do some prioritizing. I'm now curious about the true crime that inspired Reef Road.

  5. Wow, and the year starts out with a bang. Here and at other blogs I'm seeing so many new books. It's amazing how writers can keep finding new ways to write about murders, methods and motives. Several books look interesting, but I see Jane Harper's newest book and I hope it comes over here soon. I'm still waiting for Elly Griffiths' last Ruth Galloway book. Anyway, there are books for every taste. I'm contemplating good book slump when I finish Desert Star. But I will rush to my library to see if any of the good books I reserved are there. On to a satisfying new year of reading. Best to all.

    1. Harper's will be here at the end of January. I've got Griffiths' last Galloway on pre-order from Amazon UK. I never can wait for her books.

  6. I asked my bro-in-law Santa about Harper's book and Griffiths' her last book about Ruth Galloway. Will see what happens. Or I'll go ot Amazon UK.

  7. And I am a bit taken aback that Peter May is jumping into the future. Maybe that is what the mystery readers are clamoring for these days.
    His Lewis trilogy is a set I of books that I will never forget.

  8. Yes. The Lewis trilogy is superb. The protagonist's name sticks in my mind, and I've hoped Peter May would write more about Finlay McLeod. But my bro-in-law Santa is coming through with Griffiths' and Harper's books. Am I purring? Sorry, wrong blog. Am I chirping?


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