The Christmas and New Year holiday season is an excellent time to settle down with a good book. As this is my last Murder Is Everywhere blog of 2015, I wanted to leave you with a holiday reading list. And as my fellow bloggers here are a fairly modest bunch, I respectfully offer their latest titles as being well worth your consideration.
Annamaria Alfieri – STRANGE GODS
In early 20th century British East Africa, there are rules for the British and rules for the Africans. Vera McIntosh, the daughter of Scottish missionaries, doesn't feel she belongs to either group; having grown up in Africa, she is not interested in being the well-bred Scottish woman her mother would like her to be. More than anything she dreams of seeing again the handsome police officer she's danced with. But more grisly circumstances bring Justin Tolliver to her family's home.
The body of Vera's uncle, Dr. Josiah Pennyman, is found with a tribesman’s spear in his back. Tolliver, an idealistic Assistant District Superintendent of Police, is assigned to the case. He first focuses on Gichinga Mbura, a Kikuyu medicine man who has been known to hatefully condemn Pennyman because Pennyman’s cures are increasingly preferred over his. But the spear belonged to the Maasai tribe, not Kikuyu, and it's doubtful Mbura would have used it to kill his enemy. Tolliver's superior wants him to arrest the medicine man and be done with it, but Tolliver pleads that he have the chance to prove the man's guilt. With the help of Kwai Libazo, a tribal lieutenant, Tolliver discovers that others had reasons to hate Pennyman as well, and the list of suspects grows.
This is a romantic and engaging mystery that captures the beauty and the danger of the African wild and the complexities of imposing a culture on a foreign land.
Cara Black – MURDER ON THE CHAMP DE MARS
The fifteenth title in the Aimée Leduc mystery series.
Paris, April 1999: Aimée Leduc has her work cut out for her—running her detective agency and fighting off sleep deprivation as she tries to be a good single mother to her new bébé. The last thing she has time for now is to take on a personal investigation for a poor manouche (Gypsy) boy. But he insists his dying mother has an important secret she needs to tell Aimée, something to do with Aimée’s father’s unsolved murder a decade ago. How can she say no?
The dying woman’s secret is even more dangerous than her son realized. When Aimée arrives at the hospital, the boy’s mother has disappeared. She was far too sick to leave on her own—she must have been abducted. What does she know that’s so important it’s worth killing for? And will Aimée be able to find her before it’s too late and the medication keeping her alive runs out?
Leighton Gage – THE WAYS OF EVIL MEN
Although Leighton Gage, one of the founders of this blog, passed away in 2013, his books continue to live on. The latest, published in 2014, was THE WAYS OF EVIL MEN, the seventh Chief Inspector Mario Silva investigation.
The Awana tribe, who live in the remote Amazon jungle in the Brazilian state of Pará, have dwindled to only 41 members—and now 39 of them have dropped dead of what looks like poison. The neighboring white townsfolk don’t seem to be mourning the genocide much—in fact, the only person who seems to care at all is Jade Calmon, the official tribal relations agent assigned to the area. She wants justice for the two survivors, a father and his 8-year-old son. But racism is deeply entrenched and no one is going to help her get to the truth.
Unfortunately, this is far from the first time the Brazilian federal police have had a tribal genocide to investigate. Chief Inspector Mario Silva and his team are sent in from Brasilia to try to solve the increasingly complex case just as a local white man is discovered murdered. Someone has done their best to frame the surviving Awana man, and the town is about to erupt.
Jørn Lier Horst – THE CAVEMAN
A William Wisting mystery
For four months Viggo Hansen's body has been sitting, undiscovered in front of his television, close to the home of Chief Inspector William Wisting. Has Norwegian society become so coarsened that no one cares? Wisting's journalist daughter, Line, wants to know. Wisting suspects a serial killer is at work, but for how long and across how many countries? When the CIA finally gets involved the stakes rise and tensions mount, until the final deadly race against time with Line's life at stake.
Sujata Massey – INDIA GRAY
Travel to the Indian subcontinent with a new collection of Sujata Massey’s suspenseful historical fiction. This book includes four works described below:
OUTNUMBERED AT OXFORD. When Perveen Mistry leaves Bombay to study law at St. Hilda’s College in 1919 Oxford, England, she hopes to escape her troubled past and become a pioneering woman lawyer. Then an elderly don tasks her with locating an Indian servant who may have stolen an invaluable mathematics proof. Perveen is caught in a case that threatens her ladylike reputation—and her life.
THE AYAH’S TALE. Menakshi Dutt, a teenaged nanny in 1920s Bengal, is a beloved caregiver of three lonely British children, but suffers from the cruelty of their bored mother. Will Menakshi ever fulfill her own dreams without betraying the children?
INDIA GRAY. Kamala Lewes, a recently-married Bengali woman, travels to Assam during World War II to volunteer at a military hospital. There she discovers some patients with ties to the Indian independence movement. How far can she go to help them without betraying her British husband and the Allies?
BITTER TEA. Shazia is fifteen and trapped in a remote village in Pakistan overtaken by religious fundamentalists. Her school has been closed, and women have lost freedom of movement. But when Shazia learns a friend faces danger from the invaders, she decides to act.
Four unforgettable heroines in one book rich with history, culture and intrigue.
Caro Ramsay – TEARS OF ANGELS
The latest in the Anderson and Costello series
Past crimes cause new murder in this tense and twisting psychological thriller A few days before the summer solstice a 92-year-old woman is found burned to death in her home. On the same day, a man's mutilated corpse is discovered in a field, his arms ripped from their sockets, a Tarot card depicting The Fool inserted in his mouth. When the victim is identified as someone for whom the police have been looking for almost a year, detectives Anderson and Costello find themselves caught up in a case where nothing is as it seems. Was the dead man really responsible for three child murders? And what is the connection with the death of the elderly woman? The investigation leads to the tranquil shores of Loch Lomond where Anderson and Costello will finally uncover the shocking truth.
Michael Stanley – A DEATH IN THE FAMILY
A Detective Kubu mystery
Faced with the violent death of his own father, even Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu, Botswana CID's keenest mind, is baffled. Who would kill such a frail old man? The picture becomes even murkier with the apparent suicide of a government official. Are Chinese mine-owners involved? And what role does the US Embassy have to play?
Set amidst the dark beauty of modern Botswana, A Death in the Family is a thrilling insight into a world of riots, corruption and greed, as a complex series of murders presents the opera-loving, wine connoisseur detective with his most challenging case yet. When grief-stricken Kubu defies orders to try to bring the killers to justice, startling and chilling links emerge, spanning the globe and setting a sequence of shocking events in motion. Will Kubu catch the killers in time … and find justice for his father?
Jeffrey Siger – DEVIL OF DELPHI
A Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis mystery
In ancient times, Delphi stood at the center of the world, a mountainous, verdant home to the gods, where kings and warriors journeyed to learn of their fates from its Oracle, and disobeyed its preaching at their peril.
In modern day Delphi, a young Athens émigré seeks to re-build his life in anonymity among its pastoral, rolling hills and endless olive groves. But the man's dark past is too celebrated, and his assassin skills are too much in demand for his fate to be left to his own hands.
When he's given no choice but to serve the ruthless aims of an international criminal mastermind, he agrees, but on his terms. His methods bring unexpected death to a member of one of Greece's most prominent and feared political families, and draws Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis into the eye of a political and media firestorm threatening to bring down the nation's government.
It is a gripping, fast-paced story played out against a backdrop of World Heritage Sites, an annual global trillion-dollar legitimate alcoholic beverage industry preyed upon by counterfeiters of the industries' most celebrated brands, and political infighting among Greek revolutionaries, movers and shakers. Kaldis and his team soon find themselves battling purveyors of life-threatening adulterated booze, struggling to bring a cold-blooded killer to justice, and laboring to outthink a political chess-master determined to destroy Kaldis' ailing boss, Greece's Minister of Public Order—all without turning themselves and their families into deadly targets.
Susan Spann – FLASK OF THE DRUNKEN MASTER
The latest entry in the thrilling 16th century Japanese mystery series, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo
August 1565: When a rival artisan turns up dead outside Ginjiro’s brewery, and all the evidence implicates the brewer, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo must find the killer before the magistrate executes Ginjiro and seizes the brewery, leaving his wife and daughter destitute. A missing merchant, a vicious debt collector, and a female moneylender join Ginjiro and the victim’s spendthrift son on the suspect list. But with Kyoto on alert in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, a rival shinobi on the prowl, and samurai threatening Hiro and Father Mateo at every turn, Ginjiro’s life is not the only one in danger.
Will Hiro and Father Mateo unravel the clues in time to save Ginjiro’s life, or will the shadows gathering over Kyoto consume the detectives as well as the brewer?
Zoë Sharp – FOX FIVE: a Charlie Fox short story collection
Four of the stories have been published elsewhere in highly-praised anthologies and prestigious outlets such as Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. The final story was written specially for this anthology.
In 'A Bridge Too Far', we meet Charlie before she’s become a professional in the world of close protection. When she agrees to hang out with the local Dangerous Sports Club, she has no idea it will soon live up to its name.
'Postcards From Another Country' has Charlie guarding the ultra-rich Dempsey family against attempted assassination − no matter where the danger lies.
A finalist for the CWA Short Story Dagger, 'Served Cold' puts another tough woman centre stage − the mysterious Layla, with betrayal in her past and murder in her heart.
'Off Duty' finds Charlie taking time away from close protection after injury. She still finds trouble, even in an out-of-season health spa in the Catskill Mountains.
'Truth And Lies' is a 11,500-word tale in which Charlie has to single-handedly extract a news team from a rapidly escalating war zone.
Also included: Excerpt from KILLER INSTINCT: Charlie Fox book one, Meet Charlie Fox, Meet Zoë Sharp, info on the other books in the Charlie Fox series.
Bonus material includes an excerpt from KILLER INSTINCT and a taster of each of the ten books in the Charlie Fox series to date.
This week’s Word of the Week is facetiae, which means both pornographic literature, and humorous or witty sayings. It first came into use in the 16th century, from the Latin plural of facetia 'jest', from facetus 'witty'.