Historic Charleston and a gaggle of interesting helpers make this another winner in this long-running series.

HAUNTED HIBISCUS

A Halloween visit to a haunted house leads to a challenging murder investigation.

Tea shop owner Theodosia Browning has a storied reputation throughout Charleston as an amateur sleuth. So when she and her tea sommelier, Drayton, attend a fundraiser for the Heritage Society held at a decrepit mansion the society just inherited, she’s shocked but not surprised to be asked to investigate a murder. Willow French, the grandniece of Heritage Society bigwig Timothy Neville, was using the fundraiser to promote her book on true crime and low-country legends, which seemed like a perfect match for the haunted venue until someone hanged the author from a high window. When Theodosia’s boyfriend, police detective Pete Riley, checks out Willow’s apartment, an intruder shoots him, spurring Theodosia in her investigation. The valuable yellow diamond earrings Willow was wearing have vanished. Robbery is certainly a reasonable motive for murder, but Theodosia can’t help wondering if this crime is more personal. The long list of suspects begins with Willow’s fiance, who’s just inherited the expensive house she’d recently purchased. Her book publisher gives off an odd vibe; the man whose family owned the Heritage Society's new mansion thinks it should be his; and several of the people working the fundraiser are short of funds themselves. As Pete recovers, his dire warnings don’t deter Theodosia, who continues to investigate even though she’s fully booked for holiday teas.

Historic Charleston and a gaggle of interesting helpers make this another winner in this long-running series.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-451-48969-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A top-class cozy infused with dry wit and charming characters who draw you in and leave you wanting more, please.

THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB

Four residents of Coopers Chase, a British retirement village, compete with the police to solve a murder in this debut novel.

The Thursday Murder Club started out with a group of septuagenarians working on old murder cases culled from the files of club founder Elizabeth’s friend Penny Gray, a former police officer who's now comatose in the village's nursing home. Elizabeth used to have an unspecified job, possibly as a spy, that has left her with a large network of helpful sources. Joyce is a former nurse who chronicles their deeds. Psychiatrist Ibrahim Arif and well-known political firebrand Ron Ritchie complete the group. They charm Police Constable Donna De Freitas, who, visiting to give a talk on safety at Coopers Chase, finds the residents sharp as tacks. Built with drug money on the grounds of a convent, Coopers Chase is a high-end development conceived by loathsome Ian Ventham and maintained by dangerous crook Tony Curran, who’s about to be fired and replaced with wary but willing Bogdan Jankowski. Ventham has big plans for the future—as soon as he’s removed the nuns' bodies from the cemetery. When Curran is murdered, DCI Chris Hudson gets the case, but Elizabeth uses her influence to get the ambitious De Freitas included, giving the Thursday Club a police source. What follows is a fascinating primer in detection as British TV personality Osman allows the members to use their diverse skills to solve a series of interconnected crimes.

A top-class cozy infused with dry wit and charming characters who draw you in and leave you wanting more, please.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-98-488096-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Slow moving and richly layered.

THE SEARCHER

A retired cop takes one last case in this stand-alone novel from the creator of the Dublin Murder Squad.

Originally from North Carolina, Cal Hooper has spent the last 30 years in Chicago. “A small place. A small town in a small country”: That’s what he’s searching for when he moves to the West of Ireland. His daughter is grown, his wife has left him, so Cal is on his own—until a kid named Trey starts hanging around. Trey’s brother is missing. Everyone believes that Brendan has run off just like his father did, but Trey thinks there’s more to the story than just another young man leaving his family behind in search of money and excitement in the city. Trey wants the police detective who just emigrated from America to find out what’s really happened to Brendan. French is deploying a well-worn trope here—in fact, she’s deploying a few. Cal is a new arrival to an insular community, and he’s about to discover that he didn’t leave crime and violence behind when he left the big city. Cal is a complex enough character, though, and it turns out that the mystery he’s trying to solve is less shocking than what he ultimately discovers. French's latest is neither fast-paced nor action-packed, and it has as much to do with Cal’s inner life as it does with finding Brendan. Much of what mystery readers are looking for in terms of action is squeezed into the last third of the novel, and the morally ambiguous ending may be unsatisfying for some. But French’s fans have surely come to expect imperfect allegiance to genre conventions, and the author does, ultimately, deliver plenty of twists, shocking revelations, and truly chilling moments.

Slow moving and richly layered.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-73-522465-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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