Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A St. Louis Getaway

Donna and I have been friends long enough now that we no longer give each other "things" as gifts, unless they mean something. Instead, we try to do something together so we can share a memory. This year, Donna gave me a trip to St. Louis.

It all started with The London Tea Room. I had been there earlier this year with a friend, Kathy Boone Reel, when author Deborah Crombie appeared there. But, a couple days a week, they're doing a Christmas tea now. So, our first stop in St. Louis was the tea. What a treat! It was so relaxing. Just soft conversation in the room. A Christmas tree. My first Christmas cracker! The crowns were inside the crackers. Two pots of tea per person, and a delicious tier of sandwiches, scones made right there, and pastries. You can see how beautiful it all was.

My Christmas cracker

With my Christmas cracker

Donna with our tea 

Before checking in at our Bed & Breakfast, we stopped at the St. Louis Public Library. Neither of us had ever been there. But, because a man at the front desk suggested we take the one-hour tour, we decided to go back the next morning instead of rushing through on our own.

If we're anyplace near the theatre district in St. Louis, we stay at Grand Center Inn. The bed-and-breakfast is just perfect for us, and it's within walking distance of the Fox Theatre and a number of small venues.

Grand Center Inn

On Friday night, we walked down to the Grandel Theatre. We had dinner reservations at The Dark Room, the bar and restaurant in the building, and there was a wonderful piano player.

The Grandel and The Dark Room

Then, we walked across the lobby to the theatre itself to see the Metro Theater company perform "It's a Wonderful Life". It was "a reimagined version", just an hour long about a radio station in which the cast of the broadcast of "It's a Wonderful Life" all succumbs to food poisoning. Everyone, from the announcer to the receptionist to the cleaning lady put on the show, and they even recruit a deliveryman to play George Bailey. It was so much fun, with a marvelous cast.

Saturday morning, we headed to the St. Louis Public Library. They have several one-hour tours on Saturdays. The docent told us all about the history of the library, which was unusual because it was a Carnegie Library, and Andrew Carnegie seldom gave money for a large building. He gave money for small neighborhood libraries. This one was built in 1912, and closed down for two years and renovated just a few years ago. It's beautiful, and they used artisans from the St. Louis area for the renovations, including one company headed by the third generation of artisans. Ceilings, stained glass, lighting. As Donna said, this library now has the best lighting of any public library we've been in.

The lights were restored - marble, alabaster and onyx

Stained glass honoring Poetry and Music

Decorative fireplace in the children's department

Once the tour was over, we went outside to see a sculpture, "Mariposas", meaning Butterflies. It was done in 2015 by Manola Valdes, and it's on loan to the library. The butterflies look different, depending on how the sun shines on the wings.

(And, I had to take a couple pictures of Christ Church Cathedral across the street, because of the gargoyles.)

Donna's Christmas gift was just perfect, an experience and memories to share.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Murder at the Opera by D. M. Quincy

At last! At last a new Atlas Catesby mystery from D.M. Quincy, and, at last, a series I've read from the beginning. If you enjoy atmospheric historical mysteries set in the early 19th century, mysteries that beautifully set the scene while introducing characters from all walks of life, I suggest you start with the first in the series, Murder in Mayfair. However, this time, I was ready for the further adventures of Atlas Catesby and Lady Lilliana Warwick in Murder at the Opera.

Catesby was just putting Lady Lilliana into the coach after an enjoyable evening at Covent Garden when they hear a cry of murder. He ran to help, finding a small crowd surrounding the body of a woman. She had been shot in the face, and a nearby fruit vendor witnessed the shooting, saw the killer, and retrieved the pistol. When Catesby hurried to the inn where the inquest was to be held, Endicott, a shrewd Bow Street runner, informed him that Mrs.Wendala Pike was the victim, a woman who was notorious as mistress to a wealthy nobleman. The wealthy nobleman? Catesby's former brother-in-law, the Marquess of Vessey.

From the time he was a boy, Atlas has hated Vessey. He blames him for the death of Vessey's wife, Atlas' sister, Phoebe. She fell down the stairs, but Atlas is sure that Vessey pushed her. Now, he learns that Mrs. Pike has been Vessey's mistress all these years, even before Vessey and Phoebe were married. Atlas vows to find Mrs. Pike's killer, even, and especially, if it is Vessey. He's only confused when Vessey shows so much sorrow and utters a cryptic sentence when he sees Mrs. Pike's body.

Together with Lady Lilliana, and the assistance of his valet, Jamie, Catesby questions his way through 1815 London. Gunsmiths, young bucks, fruit vendors and those involved in the theater all provide pieces for Catesby's latest puzzle. Although his nephew begs him to prove Vessey's innocence, Atlas is determined to find the truth at all costs.

Quincy's latest mystery is a fascinating puzzle with intriguing characters. She excels at the polite rituals of society, even as Catesby and Lilliana break rules. Family relationships, romances, and friendships take center stage in Murder at the Opera. The book brings a couple storylines to a head for those of us who have read the series. Readers won't be disappointed at the latest developments, although the solution to the mystery itself may come as a surprise. In fact, some of us will be delighted at the new puzzles awaiting Atlas Catesby.

D.M. Quincy's website is www.dmquincy.com

Murder at the Opera by D.M. Quincy. Crooked Lane Books, 2019. ISBN 9781643852355 (hardcover), 336p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Have You Heard? Donna Andrews' The Real Macaw

I was in St. Louis Friday and Saturday. I'm looking forward to sharing the pictures, but I didn't have time yet, so I'm pleased Sandie Herron has stepped up with a review of Donna Andrews' audio book, The Real Macaw. Thank you, Sandie.

The Real Macaw
Meg Langslow Mystery, Book 13                                 

Written by Donna Andrews
Narrated by Bernadette Dunne
Unaudited Audiobook
Dreamscape Media LLC (June 5, 2018)
Listening Length: 8 hours and 39 minutes
Agatha Award Nominee for Best Novel (2011), Lefty Award (2012), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Humor (2011)

Since the last Meg Langslow mystery, Book 12, STORK RAVING MAD, Meg had her twin babies, boys Josh and Jamie.  Meg is feeding them one evening when they are 4 months old, and she begins to hear animal noises. She trecks down the stairs in her and her husband Michael’s large Victorian home, only to spy her father, her grandfather, and her brother shepherding in all sorts of cats, dogs, gerbils, guinea pigs, birds, and one macaw with quite the vocabulary into her living room!  They explain that with the dire financial straits the town of Caerphilly, Virginia has gotten itself into, the shelter has had its no-kill policy rescinded. In order to save all the animals, the men of the Langslow branch of the family joined forces with the Corsicans (Committee Opposed to the Ruthless Slaughter of Innocent Captive Animals) to save them all. The original plan was to have Parker Blair pick everyone up and then deliver to various people who volunteered to foster them.  But Parker never showed up. Meg keeps calling his cell phone to make sure he’s OK, and Chief Burke arrives, holding Parker’s phone and asks Meg why she keeps calling a dead man.

Meg doesn’t need more residents in her home, so she insists that all the animals be moved to the barn.  However, her brother Rob has a team of testers from his computer gaming company testing a new game in the barn.  The Corsicans hold their meetings in the barn as well, with many of the animals being adopted on the spot. Even Rob falls in love with a particular dog. 

 Rumors fly about who might have killed Parker, since he had many girlfriends in town, some wildly jealous of each other.  Rumors are also flying that the mayor has mortgaged the town, and a development company will seize the property of several citizens including Meg and Michael, Meg’s father, and others, in order to construct a golf course that would profit the town.  First, however, comes the solving of the murder and burying Parker. His closest friend needs help finding the best clothes to bury Parker in and enlists Meg’s help. While Meg is ostensibly looking for clothes, she searches Parker’s home and files. Meg discovers that Parker has proof of what the Mayor has done to the town!

While rumors fly, confirmation comes next, and chaos reigns, as always.  Donna Andrews can make all the mayhem seem like it’s supposed to happen in the Langslow home and spill in Caerphilly while treating us to many laugh-out-loud moments as we watch.  The murder is solved, but not in any way suspected at the outset of this caper. Plotting was enjoyable, steady, and not rushed. I think Donna Andrews is getting even better at this!

Saturday, December 07, 2019

An Old Man's Game by Andy Weinberger

It's sort of disturbing to realize Amos Parisman, a retired PI in Los Angeles, is only a few years older than I am. He was a Marine in Vietnam, then a private investigator for forty years. He and his wife, Loretta, are aging in a retirement home when he's called out of retirement in Andy Weinberger's debut mystery, An Old Man's Game.

Howie Rothbart, president of the Board at Temple Shir Emmet, wants Amos to look into the death of their rabbi. Amos reminds Howie that he's retired, and isn't an observant Jew, but Rothbart doesn't care. Ezra Diamant died over lunch at Canter's Deli. Although the police say it was a natural death, and the rabbi smoked and was overweight, the Board wants reassurance. Their rabbi was charismatic and forceful. He made headlines. And, he stirred up trouble.

It's Amos who actually stirs up trouble with his questions. Two people end up dead who were connected to the rabbi. Amos finds a bullet on the hood of his car. Even Parisman's friend, Lt. Bill Malloy, thinks Amos might be on to something. It's time for Amos to have protection, though. He turns to Omar Villasenor, a thirty-year-old Mexican who credits Parisman with keeping him out of jail. The big man is intimidating, but gentle. He'll do to watch Amos' back.

Amos is definitely the star of this mystery. He's quiet and unassuming, a man who loves his wife who is slipping into dementia. His observations about Judaism, and the sermons written by the rabbi, are fascinating. He's just going through the motions of life, one step at a time, until the case comes along. In fact, in observing his retirement, he says, "It's not retirement exactly, more like the system is quietly shutting down on its own." There's his comment, "Depression, followed by the triumph of the human spirit? Hey, that's me in a nutshell."

Looking for a PI with the wisdom of his age? That's Amos Parisman. I hope the kind, thoughtful PI returns to show readers that criminal investigation really can be An Old Man's Game.

An Old Man's Game by Andy Weinberger. Prospect Park Books, 9781945551642 (paperback), 224p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.

Friday, December 06, 2019

A is for Audra by John Robert Allman

As a Broadway fan, even before I actually saw the book, I wanted a copy of John Robert Allman's A is for Audra. He wrote the book, but this picture book wouldn't be anywhere near as wonderful without Peter Emmerich's illustrations of Broadway's leading ladies. It's subtitled, "Broadway's Leading Ladies from A to Z", and this adult just had to have this book. I love it more every time I look at it.

Check out that cover with Carol Channing, Liza Minnelli, Audra McDonald, Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters, and Chita Rivera. The book goes back in Broadway history to include Gertrude Lawrence, but it's also current with Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. It covers everything from "Ain't Misbehavin'" to "Gypsy" and Mary Martin as "Peter Pan". The illustrations of the divas are wonderful. If I knew the star, I instantly recognized the drawing. And, I've seen six of the women on Broadway who are in the book.

Kelli O'Hara's page, for instance, shows her in "South Pacific", and says, "O's the outstanding Ms. Kelli O'Hara as Nellie, Francesca, Mrs. Anna or Clara." At the bottom of that page, it identifies her and says what the show is that's portrayed. There's an excellent section at the back of the book with short biographical sketches of each star. And, there's places at the front and back of the book for autographs.

Do you have a Broadway fan in the family? Or, are you raising a child to be a fan of Broadway? This might be a children's book, but I'm still captivated by this book and the stories behind it. I fell in love with A is for Audra.

A is for Audra: Broadway's Leading Ladies from A to Z by John Robert Altman. Illustrations by Peter Emmerich. Doubleday, 2019. ISBN 9780525645405 (hardcover).

A portion of the proceeds from the purchase of the book is donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of the book.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

What Are You Reading?

How's your reading time this week? Family back to work or school so you have some time? Or, are you too busy?

I've been busy enough that I seem to fall asleep early in the evening, which cuts into my reading time. I'm reading a February release. Watch for Lori Rader-Day's The Lucky One. I'm just over halfway through it, which means there will be probably a half dozen more twists to it because Rader-Day just does that. Here's the annotation of the book (not mine).

From the author of the Edgar Award®-nominated Under A Dark Sky comes an unforgettable, chilling novel about a young woman who recognizes the man who kidnapped her as a child, setting off a search for justice, and into danger.

Most people who go missing are never found. But Alice was the lucky one...
As a child, Alice was stolen from her backyard in a tiny Indiana community, but against the odds, her policeman father tracked her down within twenty-four hours and rescued her from harm. In the aftermath of the crime, her family decided to move to Chicago and close the door on that horrible day.
Yet Alice hasn’t forgotten. She devotes her spare time volunteering for a website called The Doe Pages scrolling through pages upon pages of unidentified people, searching for clues that could help reunite families with their missing loved ones. When a face appears on Alice’s screen that she recognizes, she’s stunned to realize it’s the same man who kidnapped her decades ago. The post is deleted as quickly as it appeared, leaving Alice with more questions than answers.
Embarking on a search for the truth, she enlists the help of friends from The Doe Pages to connect the dots and find her kidnapper before he hurts someone else. Then Alice crosses paths with Merrily Cruz, another woman who’s been hunting for answers of her own. Together, they begin to unravel a dark, painful web of lies that will change what they thought they knew—and could cost them everything.
Twisting and compulsively readable, The Lucky One explores the lies we tell ourselves to feel safe.

So, what are you reading this week? We'd love to know.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Paige Shelton, Author Interview

I've been reading Paige Shelton's mysteries for about seven years now, beginning with her Cooking School mystery, If Fried Chicken Could Fly. I read every one of them, and all of her Scottish Bookshop mysteries. She's kicking off a new one now, a darker series, beginning with Thin Ice. That means it's the perfect time to ask Paige some questions.

Thank you, Paige!

Paige, Would you introduce yourself to readers?

Thank you, Lesa. It’s always great to talk to you and your readers.

I’m a mystery writer, with about twenty published cozies. Thin Ice is my first non-cozy suspense and is the first in the Alaska Wild series. Other series are: Farmers Market, Country Cooking School (paranormal), Dangerous Type, and Scottish Bookshop. My first book, Farm Fresh Murder published in 2010.

I moved around the Midwest a lot as a kid but ended up in Salt Lake City after college. I met my husband there and we raised our son. About five years ago, and after son was in college, my husband and I moved to Arizona. Though I miss my Utah friends, I am head-over-heels for Arizona. I can’t believe how much I’ve come to love the desert and am very glad to be here. 

Introduce us to Beth Rivers, please.

She’s a successful thriller writer – but that’s a secret. After being abducted by a fan who’d stalked her for a couple of years, he kidnaped her and kept her in his van for three long days. She doesn’t remember much about that time, but she did get away. After brain surgery to clear a blood clot on her brain, she decided to run away and hide until her kidnapper was found. She escapes to a remote area of Alaska, hoping she’s run far enough. 

This might be tough without spoilers, but tell us about Thin Ice.                   

Beth tries to find a way to deal with her past trauma as well as assist the local police in solving a mysterious death. She grew up around law enforcement, so she knows a few things. Every day she moves forward though, some of her past sneaks in and tries to pull her back to that place, that time locked in her captor’s van. 

You’re known as a cozy mystery writer. Why the departure with Thin Ice?

I think it’s as simple as writers love to write. When I first found my wonderful agent, Jessica Faust, I didn’t even know what a cozy was – I just wanted to write mysteries. I would love to write all different kinds of stories, and I have an agent with a big vision, as well as a super-smart editor, Hannah Braatan. I feel very fortunate.

You have a fascinating cast of characters in Thin Ice. Introduce readers to a few of them, please – Gril, Viola, Donner, any others you’d like to mention.

Gril – the grizzled police chief. He moved to Alaska from Chicago, where he was tired of watching so many people die. He’s smart in an old-school way.

Viola runs the halfway house where Beth accidentally rents a room. She’s quite the character, having run away from Juneau with her sister when they were kids. I just finished book two of the series and got to know Viola even better. I really like her. 

Donner is a local Park Ranger, so he’s part of Gril’s law enforcement team. He tries to help Beth, but he’s got a few secrets of his own.

In fact, it seems that most folks around Benedict, Alaska are running or hiding from something. Lots of secrets to uncover. 

Tell us a little about Beth’s mother.

Millicent Rivers is a mess. She loves her daughter, Beth, but when Beth’s father disappeared when she was a kid, Mill’s already obsessive ways took over and she hasn’t stopped looking for Eddy Rivers since. She thinks all police are idiots, and she thinks she’s above the law. Now, after what happened to her daughter, in her mind she has even more to avenge.  

There’s so much left unknown at the end of Thin Ice. Can you tell us anything about the next book, or even Gril’s next investigation?

Hmm. There’s more than one dead body in the second book. One: a frozen body is found in a previously hidden shed that becomes exposed after a mudslide. That’s truly all I can say. Oh! Also, two mysterious little girls appear and though they don’t speak, they sure seem to “say” a lot. There’s lots more about Beth’s captor and Beth’s mother. 

You picked a remote park of Alaska as a setting. Tell us about your research, and what you loved about Alaska.

My in-laws lived in Anchorage for years, and my husband and I took our honeymoon up there. I was shocked by the state’s beauty as well as its vast primitiveness. I mean, it is still really, really primitive, and that’s around Anchorage, a big city. Last summer, Charlie and I visited an even more remote area around Glacier Bay National Park – Gustavus, which is the town I used to create Benedict. It is, unquestionably, a different world, a different sort of life. As much as I loved the trip, I would find it difficult to live so primitively. However, I hope to go back someday. 

Typewriters. It’s an Olympia typewriter in Thin Ice.  Your Dangerous Type mysteries feature a typewriter repair shop. What fascinates you about typewriters?

Everything. I can’t get enough of them. I only own a couple of old ones because I’m not a collector, but I love looking at pictures of them, reading about them, pushing their keys. They changed the world – the way we communicate. And they make cool clacking noises. 

What’s on your TBR pile, Paige?

I’m currently reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. It’s extraordinary.
The next three on the ever-changing pile are:
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (research for Scottish Bookshop six)

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
Old Bones by Preston and Child

Thanks to you and your readers, Lesa! Happy holidays to everyone.

And, thank you, Paige!

Paige Shelton's website is https://www.paigeshelton.com/

If you're interested in adding Paige Shelton's Thin Ice to your TBR pile, here's the information. 

Thin Ice by Paige Shelton. Minotaur Books, 2019. ISBN 9781250295217 (hardcover), 288p.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Thin Ice by Paige Shelton

Even if you're a cozy mystery who loves Paige Shelton's books, you might want to give Thin Ice a try. It's a thriller for all of us who don't want to be terrorized. While the ordeal is over, the terror and past still lingers for Beth Rivers. I loved the character's courage, the other characters in the book, and the remote setting. And, those of you who never pick up a cozy mystery might want to try this book.

Elizabeth Fairchild was kidnapped by a crazed fan and held captive for three days before she managed to escape. She's still traumatized by the ordeal she doesn't remember after she threw herself from a moving van and had to have brain surgery. She only remembers the man's name. She takes back her birth name of Beth Rivers, and heads to the most remote village she can find, Benedict, Alaska.

Beth has no real plans other than to hide in Benedict House until her kidnapper is found by the police or her obsessed mother. However, the residents of Benedict notice her because she's going to stay at the house. What she didn't know when she reserved a room is that the house is a shelter for female felons who are strictly supervised there. Everyone asks Beth what she did to end up there. Only the police chief, Gril, knows her secret. He's determined to protect her, but he also knows she needs something to occupy her time. Because there was a death just as Beth arrived, Gril recruits her to help him. As the granddaughter of a small town police chief, she has research and mathematical skills he can use. Although Beth worries that the death might be connected to her arrival, she's interested enough to dig in to the story behind it.

Shelton's first thriller/mystery works beautifully on so many levels. Beth's childhood is fascinating, and that story is slowly revealed. Her memory of her three-day ordeal does not come back as quickly as she would like, and there is still so much unknown by the end of the book. The residents of Benedict, Alaska are intriguing people. So many of them are runaways with secrets, people hiding from their own past. But, they come together as a community when it's important. Shelton manages to include humor, which alleviates the tension as Beth tries to recover her own memories. Even her attempts and her physical issues are engrossing. This is the story of a woman trying to build on her past while always looking over her shoulder.

I'm a fan of Paige Shelton's cozy mysteries. And, I regret the end of several of her series. But, I loved Thin Ice. I'm looking forward to the next book in a series with an unusual new character plunked down in a remote area of Alaska.

Paige Shelton's website is PaigeShelton.com

Thin Ice by Paige Shelton. St. Martin's Minotaur, 2019. ISBN 9781250295217 (hardcover), 288p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra

If you've never read Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, and you intend to, stop right now. With Meg & Jo, Virginia Kantra succeeds brilliantly in bringing the book into the 21st century while maintaining the spirit of the characters. There's still "reliable Meg", "independent Jo", "stylish Amy", and "shy Beth". But Kantra answers those questions that young girls don't understand. NOW, I know why Jo rejected Laurie and picked Professor Bhaer. I always thought Meg was a goody-two-shoes. In Meg & Jo, they both get to tell their stories, and Kantra clears up a couple other issues I always had with the earlier book. And, she's going to round out the story in a forthcoming novel, Beth & Amy.

"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents." Sound familiar? The March sisters and their mother have moved into an old farmhouse in Bunyan, North Carolina because their father is in Iraq as an army chaplain. They moved from the pastor's house, and now their mother has made the transition to a goat farmer. The story opens as they eagerly await a call from their father in the prologue to the story.

When Jo tells her story, though, she's 28, living in New York City. She hoped to be a writer, but was laid off at a newspaper, and she's now a prep cook at a restaurant, and a food blogger. Although her best friend, Theodore Laurence III (Trey), has insisted he loves her, Jo knows she doesn't love him. She wants to be independent, and write books. In the meantime, she secretly writes a blog called "Hungry", and admires her boss, Eric Bhaer, a chef who is passionate about serving people.

Meg is living the life she wanted, married to John Brooke. They have twins, and she quit her job at the bank to stay home with the children, so John was forced to give up his teaching job and work for Trey's grandfather at his car dealership. Meg knows she should be happy, but when their mother ends up in the hospital, she takes on the role of caretaker of the farm. For Meg, life is all about responsibility and not asking for help.

Do you sense dissatisfaction here? While Amy is off in Paris on an internship with Louis Vuitton, Beth is in Branson, performing in the chorus of a show. By the time they all come together back at the farm for Christmas, Jo and Meg and Mrs. March will have made some major changes in their lives. Satisfying changes.

I loved Little Women. I cherish the book, and several gifts I've received from my mother that are related to the book. I've seen the play. I'll be going to this year's Christmas movie, Little Women. However, Virginia Kantra did a wonderful job updating the story. I fell in love with Eric Bhaer, which is good because Jo will always be my favorite March sister. I cheered for Mrs. March who finally stands up to her husband. And, Meg's life changes. If you were young, as I was, when I read Little Women, Meg & Jo puts the entire story in perspective.  It's the best compliment I can give to an update to a classic to say this was satisfying.

Virginia Kantra's website is www.virginiakantra.com

Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra. Berkley (Penguin Random House), 2019. ISBN 9780593100349 (paperback), 400p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book from the publisher after I agreed to review it, with no promises as to a positive review.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Treasures in My Closet - January 2020

Happy New Year! I'm not really rushing 2020, but it's time to kick off the January Treasures in My Closet. I've read a few of the mysteries already, so I can vouch for several of them. Here's to a Happy New Year of reading!

The fourteenth book in the Lady Emily series is Tasha Alexander's In the Shadow of Vesuvius. When Lady Emily finds a body hidden in plain sight amongst the ruins of Pompeii, she sets in motion a chain of events that ties her future to the fate of another woman, one whose body lay undisturbed for almost two thousand years. The police call the murder the work of local gangsters, but when Lady Emily launches her own investigation, too many people have secrets, and they're not happy with her. (Release date is Jan. 7.)

Isabel Allende's A Long Petal of the Sea is an epic novel that spans decades and crosses continents, following two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home. In the late 1930s, when fascists topple the Spanish government, hundreds of thousands flee. Among them is Rosa, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, they unite in a marriage neither desire, and embark on a ship bound for Chile. They embrace their exile as the rest of the world erupts in world war. The two face trials and joy, as they await the day they might return home. (Release date is Jan. 21.)

Kim Taylor Blakemore's historical novel, The Companion, is set in 1855 in New Hampshire. They say she's a murderess. She claims she's innocent. But Lucy Blunt has been known to tell lies. She's set to hang for a double murder. Murderess or victim? Only Lucy knows the truth. In the shadow of the gallows, Lucy reflects on the events that led to her bitter downfall, from the moment she arrived at the rambling Burton mansion looking for work to the grisly murders. With her execution looming closer, Lucy's allies fight to have her sentence overturned. But how much of her story can we trust? Lucy's been know to tell lies. (Release date is Jan. 14.)

Maura Donovan has been in Ireland for about a year now in Sheila Connolly's Fatal Roots. She doesn't know much about the property she inherited, so when some grad students ask to explore fairy forts on her property, she's curious. So curious that she's the one who finds a body buried on her property. (Release date is Jan. 7.)

In Dark Truths, A.J. Cross introduces criminologist Will Traynor in the first in a new forensic mystery series. Detective Inspector Bernard Watts and his team want to know why someone would stab a young woman to death when she was on her daily run, and then take her head. When a discovery at the crime scene links the present murder to a past crime, criminologist Will Traynor is brought in. Watts isn't convinced Traynor will bring anything new to investigation, but he's about to be proved wrong. (Release date is Jan. 7.)

Vicki Delany's latest Sherlock Holmes Mystery Bookshop mystery is There's a Murder Afoot. Gemma Doyle and her friends travel to England for a Holmes convention. For Gemma, it's a chance to visit her parents. But, her father, Henry, a retired Scotland Yard detective, spots his brother-in-law who disappeared thirty years earlier. When that disreputable man ends up dead, and a dazed Henry is found standing over him, Gemma and her friends team up to save her father from prison. (Release date is Jan. 7.)

Bound for Murder is the latest Blue Ridge Library Mystery by Victoria Gilbert. Sunny Fields, mayoral candidate and library director Amy Webber's best friend, adores her grandparents, who ran a commune in the 1960s. But, it wasn't all peace and love there, as the town discovers when a body is uncovered on the property. Rumors and innuendos could derail the campaign if Amy doesn't do a little research into the past. (Release date is Jan. 7.)

C.M. Gleason's Murder at the Capitol is an excellent historical mystery set in Washington, D.C. on the eve of the Civil War. When a man is found hanging from a crane under the Capitol dome, President Lincoln's investigator, Adam Speed Quinn, teams up with journalist wannabe Sophie Quinn and Dr. George Hilton to find a killer. Multiple murders, blackmail, violence and spies are all part of this surprising story. (Release date is Jan. 28.)

Spitfire is a debut mystery by M. L. Huie. Livy Nash was a tough spy during World War II, but her war ended with betrayal and the execution of the man she loved. Now, she spends her days proofreading a demeaning advice column, and her nights drinking alone. Then, she meets Ian Fleming, a man with an agent of his own. He sends Livy back to France to track down the traitor who killed the man she loved. But, the game has changed, and there are spies all over Paris. Now, she'll have to learn to fight a new war. (Release date is Jan. 7.)

Fans of Miranda James' Cat in the Stacks will welcome Careless Whiskers, the latest book that takes readers behind the scenes at a college theater production. Librarian Charlie Harris attends the dress rehearsals because his daughter, Laura, is starring in a play at Athena College. But, she makes no secret of the fact that she hates her leading man. When he dies on stage, Laura is a suspect, but Charlie won't rest until he clears his daughter's name. (Release date is Jan. 21.)

Jess Lourey says she writes about secrets, and there certainly are a number of them in Unspeakable Things. Inspired by a true story, a small town in Minnesota in the 1980s wasn't as safe as it appeared. Thirteen-year-old Cassie McDowell knows her family life isn't normal, with a father she fears, and parents who have swinger parties. But, there's something wrong in town, too. Boys have disappeared, and returned different, until one boy doesn't come back after he's taken. (Release date is Jan. 1.)

What do I read when I'm not reading mysteries? I'm going to try Andrew David Macdonald's When We Were Vikings. Zelda is a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert. Zelda has a few rules to help her live, but when she finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable - and dangerous - methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. "Her mission: to be legendary. It isn't long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength. (Release date is Jan. 28.)

Liz Moore's Long Bright River is about two sisters who travel the same streets, but their lives couldn't be more different. Then one of them goes missing. In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kayce, is an addict who lives on the streets. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don't speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sister. Then Kacey disappears at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey's district. (Release date is Jan. 7.)

In Ann Napolitano's Dear Edward, a young boy loses everything, but discovers there are still reasons for hope. One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark, headed for LA. Halfway across the country, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor. Edward's story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. (Release date is Jan. 6.)

The Woman in the Veil is the fourth in Laura Joh Rowland's Victorian Mystery series. In London,J une 1890, Sarah Bain and her friends Lord Hugh Staunton and Mick O'Reilly are crime scene photographers for the Daily World newspaper. One night, they're called to the bank of the Thames to photograph a murdered woman whose face was slashed. But, as Sarah takes photographs, she finds the woman is still alive. The case of "Sleeping Beauty" becomes a sensation, and people step up to identify her. Is she the wife of an artist, a stepdaughter, or the mother of a little girl? When "Sleeping Beauty" awakens, she has amnesia, but does recognize one of the parties. When one of the claimants is murdered, though, Sarah and her friends become murder suspects. (Release date is Jan. 7.)

Michael Wiley returns to Chicago as a setting with Trouble in Mind, the book that introduces PI Sam Kelson. Kelson was shot in the head as a cop, and now he suffers from disinhibition. He can't keep silent or tell lies when questioned. When he accepts a case to check on a woman's brother, he finds himself set up for murder. And, he just gets in deeper because someone is out to get him. (Release date is Jan. 7.)

Ellie Stone, "girl reporter" heads to Florence, Italy in August 1963 in James W. Ziskin's Turn to Stone. Ellie's in Italy to accept a posthumous award for her late father's academic work. She's invited to spend a weekend outside Florence with some of the scholars. But, a suspected rubella outbreak leaves the ten friends quarantined with little to do but spin tales and gorge themselves on the Tuscan food and wine. But, the summer break takes a menacing turn when the man who organized the symposium is fished out of the Arno, dead. As long-buried secrets rise to the surface, Ellie has to determine if one of her new friends is a killer. (Release date is Jan. 21.)

Here are some other books you might want to check out.

Chen, Mike - A Beginning at the End (Jan. 14)
Dornbursh, Jennifer Graeser - Secret Remains (Jan. 7)
Dorsey, Tim - Naked Came the Florida Man (Jan. 7)
Kristof, Nicholas & Sheryl WuDunn - Tightrope (Jan. 14)
Pittman, Craig - Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther (Jan. 21)
Yaffa, Joshua - Between Two Fires (Jan. 14)
Yoon, Paul - Run Me to Earth (Jan. 28)