Tuesday, May 30, 2023

June 2023 New Mystery Releases!

Denis and I have entered the Twilight Zone of Home Repair. It all seemed to begin when a windstorm ripped the carport off the side of the house. Some of the things that have followed? My mobility scooter curling up its toes. (Ruby has been retired, and Blaze has taken her place.) There's also been the gas connection to the kitchen stove and the microwave going to its final reward. The pool filter and pump need to be looked at, too. I didn't list everything just in case Murphy would take that as incentive to blow up more things around here.

Is it any wonder that taking a look at new crime fiction helps me to keep my mind off home repair?

The following are my picks of the best new crime fiction being released in the month of June. (Poolside reading, anyone?) I've grouped them according to their release dates, and the covers and synopses are courtesy of Amazon. Let's see if any of my choices are already on your own lists, shall we?

=== June 6 ===

Title: A Disappearance in Fiji
Author: Nilima Rao
Series: #1 in the historical series set in Fiji in 1914
288 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books.

Synopsis: "1914, Fiji: Akal Singh, 25, would rather be anywhere but this tropical paradise—or, as he calls it, “this godforsaken island.” After a promising start to his police career in Hong Kong, Akal has been sent to Fiji as punishment for a humiliating professional mistake. Lonely and grumpy, Akal plods through his work and dreams of getting back to Hong Kong or his native India.

When an indentured Indian woman goes missing from a sugarcane plantation and Fiji’s newspapers scream “kidnapping,” the inspector-general reluctantly assigns Akal the case. Akal, eager to achieve redemption, agrees—but soon finds himself far more invested than he could have expected.

Now not only is he investigating a disappearance, but also confronting the brutal realities of the indentured workers’ existence and the racism of the British colonizers in Fiji—along with his own thorny notions of personhood and caste. Early interrogations of the white plantation owners, Indian indentured laborers, and native Fijians yield only one conclusion: there is far more to this case than meets the eye.

Nilima Rao’s sparkling debut mystery offers an unflinching look at the evils of colonialism, even as it brims with wit, vibrant characters, and fascinating historical detail.

Title: The Traitor Beside Her
Series: #2 in the Justine Byrne historical series set in World War II Virginia
368 pages
Synopsis: "Justine Byrne can't trust the people working beside her. Arlington Hall, a former women's college in Virginia has been taken over by the United States Army where hundreds of men and women work to decode countless pieces of communication coming from the Axis powers.

Justine works among them, handling the most sensitive secrets of World War II―but she isn't there to decipher German codes―she's there to find a traitor.

Justine keeps her guard up and her ears open, confiding only in her best friend, Georgette, a fluent speaker of Choctaw who is training to work as a code talker. Justine tries to befriend each suspect, believing that the key to finding the spy lies not in cryptography but in understanding how code breakers tick. When young women begin to go missing at Arlington Hall, her deadline for unraveling the web of secrets becomes urgent and one thing remains clear: a single secret in enemy hands could end thousands of lives.

Title: All the Sinners Bleed
Author: S.A. Cosby
Standalone thriller set in Virginia
352 pages
Synopsis: "Titus Crown is the first Black sheriff in the history of Charon County, Virginia. In recent decades, quiet Charon has had only two murders. But after years of working as an FBI agent, Titus knows better than anyone that while his hometown might seem like a land of moonshine, cornbread, and honeysuckle, secrets always fester under the surface.

Then a year to the day after Titus’s election, a school teacher is killed by a former student and the student is fatally shot by Titus’s deputies. As Titus investigates the shootings, he unearths terrible crimes and a serial killer who has been hiding in plain sight, haunting the dirt lanes and woodland clearings of Charon.

With the killer’s possible connections to a local church and the town’s harrowing history weighing on him, Titus projects confidence about closing the case while concealing a painful secret from his own past. At the same time, he also has to contend with a far-right group that wants to hold a parade in celebration of the town’s Confederate history.

Charon is Titus’s home and his heart. But where faith and violence meet, there will be a reckoning.

Powerful and unforgettable,
All the Sinners Bleed confirms S. A. Cosby as “one of the most muscular, distinctive, grab-you-by-both-ears voices in American crime fiction” (The Washington Post).

Title: The Last Drop of Hemlock
Series: #2 in the Nightingale historical series set in 1920s New York City
336 pages
Synopsis: "Life as a working-class girl in Prohibition-era New York isn’t safe or easy. But Vivian Kelly has a new job at the Nightingale, an underground speakeasy where the jazz is hot and the employees look out for each other in a world that doesn’t care about them. Things are finally looking up for her and her sister Florence... until the night Vivian learns that her friend Bea's uncle, a bouncer at the Nightingale, has died.

His death is ruled a suicide, but Bea isn’t so convinced. She knew her uncle was keeping a secret: a payoff from a mob boss that was going to take him out of the tenements and into a better life. Now, the money is missing.

Though her better judgment tells her to stay out of it, Vivian agrees to help Bea find the truth about her uncle's death. But they uncover more than they expected when rumors surface of a mysterious letter writer, blackmailing Vivian's poorest neighbors for their most valuable possessions, threatening poison if they don't comply.

Death is always a heartbeat away in Jazz Age New York, where mob bosses rule the back alleys and cops take bootleggers’ hush money. But whoever is targeting Vivian’s poor and unprotected neighbors is playing a different game. With the Nightingale's dangerously lovely owner, Honor, worried for her employees' safety and Bea determined to discover who is responsible for her uncle's death, Vivian once again finds herself digging through a dead man's past in hopes of stopping a killer.

Title: Death in Fine Condition
Author: Andrew Cartmel
Series: #1 in the Paperback Sleuth cozy series set in London
336 pages
Synopsis: "Launching a new series, a cast of lovable rogues face fiendish puzzles and murderous villains in this love letter to Agatha Christie murder mysteries and classic whodunnits.
Cordelia knows books. An addict-turned-dealer of classic paperbacks, when she's not spending her days combing the charity shops and jumble sales of suburban London for valuable collector's items, she's pining for the woman of her dreams and nimbly avoiding her landlord's demands for rent.
The most elusive prize of all, her white whale, has surfaced-- a set of magnificent, vintage Sleuth Hound crime novels. Gorgeous, and just as rare as they come. Just one problem. They're not for sale. Still, that won't stop a resourceful woman like Cordelia... One burglary later, the books are hers. Unfortunately, the man she's just robbed turns out to be one of London's most dangerous gangsters, and now he's on her trail and out for blood.
Cordelia's best laid plans to pay the rent and woo the object of her affections start to fall apart, and she realizes she may have placed herself in the crosshairs of a villain torn straight from the pages of her treasured novels."
=== June 13 ===
Title: Code of the Hills
Author: Chris Offutt
Series: #3 in the Mick Hardin "hillbilly noir" series set in Kentucky
288 pages
Synopsis: "Master storyteller and award-winning author Chris Offutt’s latest book, Code of the Hills, is a dark, witty, and propulsive thriller of murder and secrets in a town where little is as it seems.

Mick Hardin is back in the hills of Kentucky. He’d planned to touch down briefly before heading to France, marking the end to his twenty-year Army career. In Rocksalt, his sister Linda the sheriff is investigating the murder of Pete Lowe, a sought-after mechanic at the local racetrack. After another body is found, Linda and her deputy Johnny Boy Tolliver wonder if the two murders are related. Linda steps into harm’s way just as a third body turns up and Mick ends up being deputized again, uncovering evidence of illegal cockfighting, and trying to connect all the crimes.

An explosive return to the mayhem of the Kentucky hills, Code of the Hills is a harrowing novel of family—of what we’re willing to do to protect and avenge the ones we love.

=== June 20 ===

Title: The Three Deaths of Willa Stannard
Author: Kate Robards
Standalone thriller
320 pages
Synopsis: "It’s not that they’ve been all that close in the past few years, but sisters Willa and Sawyer Stannard are bonded by the ups and downs of the life they’ve lived with their mercurial single mother. When Willa is found dead in her apartment from an apparent suicide, Sawyer just knows it’s not possible. A cryptic note from the acclaimed broadcast journalist leads police to rule out foul play. Shattered by grief—and obsessed by the idea that her sister’s death was not a suicide—Sawyer plunges into a search for the truth.

When Sawyer learns that Willa was writing an explosive true crime book about the decades-old disappearance of a toddler that rocked a small town hundreds of miles away, she’s even more convinced that Willa’s death is suspicious. Believing it is somehow connected to the research Willa was doing for the book, Sawyer begins to trace her sister’s steps, deep into a community she can’t begin to understand and to a truth that could destroy her as easily as it did Willa.
=== June 27 ===
Title: Please Don't Push Up the Daisies
Series: #11 in the Madison Night cozy series set in Texas
304 pages
Synopsis: "When interior decorator Madison Night finally meets the family of boyfriend and police captain Tex Allen, the circumstances are less than joyful. His sister’s broody botanist husband left Lily to raise their four rambunctious boys on her own, and she’s at wit’s end. The only bright spot is the mid-century ranch he gave her in their divorce settlement.

The soon-to-be-ex has one request: a face to face with Lily before he says goodbye. Madison offers to go along for moral support, but in lieu of signed settlement papers, she finds the ex’s body crumpled in the corner of the arboretum where he works. When swarm of angry bees sideline Tex, it’s Madison’s job to dig up the secrets that led to the murder — but if she’s not careful, the dirt she uncovers could fill her grave instead.

Title: Dead Man's Wake
Author: Paul Doiron
Series: #14 in the Mike Bowditch Game Warden series set in Maine
320 pages
Synopsis: "On the evening of their engagement party, Maine Game Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch and Stacey Stevens witness what seems to be a hit-and-run speedboat crash on a darkened lake. When they arrive at the scene, their spotlight reveals a gruesome sight: a severed arm floating just beneath the surface. As day breaks, the warden dive team recovers not one but two naked corpses: a dismembered man and the married woman with whom he was having an affair. Mike begins to suspect the swimmers' deaths were not a senseless accident but a coldly calculated murder.

Meanwhile, the hunt is on for the mysterious boater. Suspects abound on the lake, nicknamed "Golden Pond,” including the violent biker husband of the murdered woman who may have taken vengeance on his wife and her paramour; a strange woman who claims to have witnessed the crash, but then changes her story; a very aggressive realtor and his wife who were determined to catch trespassers; and the lake’s earnest young constable whose eagerness to help may hide darker motives.

Alone among his fellow officers, Mike starts to sense the involvement of a trained marksman, smarter and more dangerous than any enemy he has ever faced before. As Mike and Stacey get closer to identifying the killer, their own lives are suddenly on the line as they confront a lethal killer who plans to silence them forever. The finale is a tour de force of drama and suspense.

Title: A Most Agreeable Murder
Author: Julia Seales
A debut Regency murder mystery set in England
352 pages
Synopsis: "Feisty, passionate Beatrice Steele has never fit the definition of a true lady, according to the strict code of conduct that reigns in Swampshire, her small English township—she is terrible at needlework, has absolutely no musical ability, and her artwork is so bad it frightens people. Nevertheless, she lives a perfectly agreeable life with her marriage-scheming mother, prankster father, and two younger sisters— beautiful Louisa and forgettable Mary. But she harbors a dark secret: She is obsessed with the true crime cases she reads about in the newspaper. If anyone in her etiquette-obsessed community found out, she’d be deemed a morbid creep and banished from respectable society forever.

For her family’s sake, she’s vowed to put her obsession behind her. Because eligible bachelor Edmund Croaksworth is set to attend the approaching autumnal ball, and the Steele family hopes that Louisa will steal his heart. If not, Martin Grub, their disgusting cousin, will inherit the family’s estate, and they will be ruined or, even worse, forced to move to France. So Beatrice must be on her best behavior . . . which is made difficult when a disgraced yet alluring detective inexplicably shows up to the ball.

Beatrice is just holding things together when Croaksworth drops dead in the middle of a minuet. As a storm rages outside, the evening descends into a frenzy of panic, fear, and betrayal as it becomes clear they are trapped with a killer. Contending with competitive card games, tricky tonics, and Swampshire’s infamous squelch holes, Beatrice must rise above decorum and decency to pursue justice and her own desires—before anyone else is murdered.

There's some fine new reading to be had in June, anything from cozies to noir (and everything in between). Yes, I am eager to read the latest by Diane Vallere, S.A. Cosby, and Chris Offutt, but I have to admit that I'm really looking forward to Nilima Rao's historical mystery set in Fiji. If I'm not mistaken, A Disappearance in Fiji will be the first mystery I've read that's set in that part of the world. 

Which ones are you looking forward to? Inquiring minds would love to know!


  1. Oh, no, anything but that, more books to list. I agree with your choices mostly. And I'm awaiting Offutt's second book at the library. And I'm reading Better the Blood. So many books (and lists) to be tempted with everywhere I turn.

    1. Lead me not into Temptation; I can find it all by myself...

  2. Oh, wow, the Rao looks so appealing, Cathy! I can't wait to see what you thought of it. There are some other interesting reads on your list, too. It's hard to believe Doiron has kept the Mike Bowditch series going along so well; that's not easy to do. I hope that'll be a a good entry!

    1. I'm just about ready to start writing my review of the Rao book-- and I am in awe of authors like Doiron who can write long-running series and keep them fresh.

  3. Lots of interesting titles there. I will especially be looking for the Doiron and Cosby books.

  4. Well, as I panic from all the new books listed everywhere, this is where I go to read reviews and know if I want to read a book or not. It is impossible to keep up with all new books, even if only mysteries. Even Barbara Peters is overwhelmed now with June releases. Yikes.

    1. And she's a speed reader. I can only wish I could get through the number of books she does in a year!

  5. So do I. I also wish I could read as fast as I used to.

    1. Yes, I tend to be more easily distracted.


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