Booked 4 Murder.
By J. C. Eaton.
July 2017. 320p. Kensington, paper, $7.99
(9781496708557); e-book, $4.99 (9781496708564).
Sophie Kimball works in accounting in the
Mankato, Minnesota, police department and
knows little about detective work, other than
what her friend, Nate Williams, a detective
nearing retirement, has told
her over the years. But that’s
close enough for her mother,
retired in Sun City West,
Arizona. According to her,
Sophie must drop everything
and solve a mystery before any
more members of her book
club, Booked 4 Murder, die.
The body count is three already—and they
aren’t due to discuss their next book until the
following week, by which time they might
all be dead! Then Thelmalee, the fourth club
member, dies from a bee sting, so Sophie reluctantly flies to Arizona to appease her mother.
Sophie both trails her mother around and explores on her own, checking out the pool where
Thelmalee died, the front steps where Edna
Mae fell, and the local dog park, the best place
for gossip. After Nate’s computer-geek friend
determines that the soon-to-be discussed book
is self-published, with no Amazon sales, except
in Sun City West, Sophie pieces together the
explanation. A thoroughly entertaining series
debut, with enjoyable, yet realistic characters
and enough plot twists—and dead ends—to
appeal from beginning to end. —Karen Muller
By Aya de León.
June 2017. 320p. Dafina, paper, $9.95 (9781496704740).
Now that Tyesha Couvillier is in charge of a
women’s health clinic, her days as an escort are
definitely over. She also thinks she is finished
with doing heists, but when the local exotic
dancers want to take on strip-club bosses and
the Ukrainian Mob by forming a union, Tyesha steps
up to do what is needed.
One strip-club manager will
embrace the new union’s demands only if a gun used in a
crime is removed from a safe.
Tyesha’s sister and her boyfriend, along with her nieces,
come to New York for a visit that will change
everything the clinic director knows about her
family. Her young rap-star niece even convinces
her to give the celebrity Thug Woofer another
chance, suggesting different ideas for Tyesha’s
future. This well-written and enjoyable installment in de León’s unique, feminist, urban
crime-fiction series, Justice Hustlers (Uptown
Thief, 2016), infuses satisfying power in both
plot and character. Readers will embrace this
heist story with heart and its hero, Tyesha, a
smart yet fallible professional and champion
for struggling women. De León, who is also a
poet, social commentator, and head of the Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley, is
a crime writer to watch. —Amy Alessio
By Triss Stein.
Aug. 2017. 236p. Poisoned Pen, paper, $15.95
(9781464207198); e-book, $9.99 (9781464207204).
In each of Stein’s Erica Donato mysteries,
doctoral student Donato is pursuing historical
research on a different Brooklyn neighborhood
when trouble starts—trouble that she can’t
ignore. In Stein’s latest, Donato is this close to
finishing her dissertation, which covers the
history of Brooklyn’s storied Navy Yard, but
motivation is hard to come by. A stern warning
from her advisor sets her on the research path
once more, where she becomes embroiled in
intrigue that stretches back a few decades and
involves dirty politics, extramarital shenanigans, and more. Donato endures present-day
relationship drama as well, and the combination of boyfriend woes, local interest, and
well-written dialogue keeps the pages turning
even though this mystery isn’t top-notch. Other than for fans of the series, this could work
for readers who enjoy titles by Lawrence Block
and the TV show The Wire that cover graft and
tumultuous lives along Baltimore’s gritty waterfront. —Henrietta Verma
Child of My Winter.
By Andrew Lanh.
July 2017. 304p. Poisoned Pen, $26.95
(9781464208461); paper, $15.95 (9781464208485);
e-book, $9.99 (9781464208492).
PI Rick van Lam’s fourth case brings back
memories of his troubled past as a bui doi, a
“child of dust.” As the son of an unknown
American GI and a Vietnamese mother, he was
despised but lucky enough to be sent to the
U.S., where he ended up in Hartford, Connecticut, teaching criminology at a local college
and building his PI business. When a part-time
scholarship student, Dustin Trang, becomes the
object of bullies, Rick wants to help him, but
Dustin isn’t receptive. Then a professor who
also reached out to Dustin is murdered on campus, and Dustin becomes the prime suspect.
Rick and his friend Hank Nguyen, a Connecticut State Police officer, set out to save Dustin
from arrest for a crime he didn’t commit. Their
investigation will take them into the past, where
the scars of the Vietnam War haven’t healed in
the divided immigrant community. This complex and very timely story is a riveting study of
greed and betrayal. —Barbara Bibel
By Fiona Barton.
June 2017. 384p. Berkley, $26 (9781101990483).
When workers unearth an infant’s skeletal
remains under a block of London flats, vet-
eran reporter Kate Waters (introduced in The
Widow, 2016) smells a huge story. Police reveal
that the Building Site Baby was buried in the
1980s, and Kate’s instincts lead her to the fa-
mous, unsolved disappearance of Alice Irving.
Hoping the remains bring resolution, Alice’s
mother, Angela, allies with Kate to push for a
DNA match. At the same time, Emma Sim-
monds is crumbling under the weight of secrets
from her days living in the same flats, while
her mother, Jude, holds fast to the denial that
fueled their decades of estrangement. When
DNA results identify the Building Site Baby as
Alice, Kate is determined to discover how she
ended up buried in a garden so shortly after she
was taken. Barton’s second missing-child story
is a gut-wrenching tale of narcissism, cunning
predators, and bare-knuckle survival. Predict-
able moments? Yes, but fans of character-driven
investigations will prize these women’s well-
drawn paths to resolution over plot twists that
may be anticipated. —Christine Tran
ONLINE ALERT! May is Mystery Month
at Booklist, our eighth annual, month-
long celebration of crime fiction. In
addition to the bountiful offerings here
in our Mystery Showcase, we’ll shower
you with a cornucopia of online-exclusive
news, interviews, and author insights.
We’re thrilled to introduce a new feature
this year called “The Clues to My Crime, ”
where authors explain the influences
behind their latest works of mystery, suspense, and true crime. Jane Harper will
shed some light on the writing of her best-selling LibraryReads favorite, The Dry.
Leah Carroll, David Swinson, Rob Hart, Jay
Hosking, Nancy Werlin, Kristen Lepionka,
Bill Loehfelm, and other outstanding writers will do the same.
We’ll also have a Booklist Reader Guide
to Lee Child, an interview with Barbara
Bourland, and an essay from author Leonard Chang that explains how to deal with
obtuse editors. Booklisters will share their
takes on television series from Riverdale
to Happy Valley. Of course, we’ll also have
plenty of lists, including psychological
thrillers and foodie mysteries.
It’s all happening on The Booklist Reader
( booklistreader.com)—and we’ll be sharing everything on Twitter with the hashtag
#mysterymonth. (Don’t forget that you can
sign up for daily updates via email at book-listonline.com/newsletters.)
Want to make a Mystery Month display
in your library? A great place to start is by
printing our list of “The Year’s Best Crime
Novels,” or one of our top 10s, from the
digital edition ( booklistonline.com/issues).
Be sure to let us know about your mys-tery-themed displays
and programming by
tweeting photos or
sharing them on our
Facebook page. We
love hearing from you!