Thursday, May 31, 2018

June Brings Summer and Books

It's June, and I get to say a line from one of my favorite musicals, Carousel.  June is bustin' out all over is a perfect lead into the new books this month, which seem to be popping out in glorious plenty.  Below is a list of books I'm most looking forward to this month.  Below the list are the descriptions and some "reading room remarks" about six of the books.

Ellie Stone by James Ziskin (June 5th)

The Word is Murder: A Novel by Anthony Horowitz (June 5th)

The Betel Nut Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu (June 7th Kindle, Oct. 16th Print)

Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King (June 12th)

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier (June 12th)

Lying in Wait: A Novel by Liz Nugent (June 12th)

Murder at the Grand Raj Palace (Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation #4) by Vaseem Khan (June 12th)    

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris (June 19th)

Salt Lane (Alexandra Cupidi) by William Shaw (June 26th)

A Steep Price (The Tracy Crosswhite Series) by Robert Dugoni (June 26th)

August 1962. A suspicious fire claims a tumbledown foaling barn on the grounds of the once-proud Tempesta Stud Farm, halfway between New Holland and Saratoga Springs, NY. The blaze, one of several in recent years at the abandoned farm, barely prompts a shrug from the local sheriff. That is until "girl reporter" Ellie Stone, first on the scene, uncovers a singed length of racing silk in the rubble of the barn. And it's wrapped around the neck of one of two charred bodies buried in the ashes. A bullet between the eyes of one of the victims confirms it's murder, and the police suspect gamblers. Ellie digs deeper.

The double murder, committed on a ghostly stud farm in the dead of night, leads Ellie down a haunted path, just a stone's throw from the glamour of Saratoga Springs, to a place where dangerous men don't like to lose. Unraveling secrets from the past--crushing failure and heartless betrayal--she's learning that arson can be cold revenge.

Reading Room Remarks:  The Ellie Stone series has been a favorite of mine since book one, No Stone Unturned.  Jim Ziskin gets the voice of the 60s and Ellie Stone right on target.   A Stone's Throw is book #6 in a series that flawlessly mixes history, mystery, and crime together with the gifted writing of a master storyteller.  I always seem to think of Jim and his books as a smooth jazz, and that's my happy place.

One bright spring morning in London, Diana Cowper – the wealthy mother of a famous actor - enters a funeral parlor. She is there to plan her own service.

Six hours later she is found dead, strangled with a curtain cord in her own home.

Enter disgraced police detective Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant, eccentric investigator who’s as quick with an insult as he is to crack a case. Hawthorne needs a ghost writer to document his life; a Watson to his Holmes. He chooses Anthony Horowitz.

Drawn in against his will, Horowitz soon finds himself a the center of a story he cannot control. Hawthorne is brusque, temperamental and annoying but even so his latest case with its many twists and turns proves irresistible. The writer and the detective form an unusual partnership. At the same time, it soon becomes clear that Hawthorne is hiding some dark secrets of his own.

Reading Room Remarks: After reading Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz last year, I have been excitedly looking forward to this new book.  It looks like The Word is Murder will be another outside-the-box delight.

What we came to think of as the betel nut affair began in the middle of a tropical thunderstorm in December 1937 . . .

Singapore is agog with the news of King Edward VIII's abdication to marry American heiress Wallis Simson. Chen Su Lin, now Chief Inspector Le Froy's secretarial assistant in Singapore's newly formed detective unit, still dreams of becoming a journalist and hopes to cover the story when the Hon Victor Glossop announces he is marrying an American widow of his own, Mrs Nicole Covington, in the Colony. But things go horribly wrong when Victor Glossop is found dead, his body covered in bizarre symbols and soaked in betel nut juice.

The beautiful, highly-strung Nicole claims it's her fault he's dead . . . just like the others. And when investigations into her past reveal a dead lover, as well as a husband, the case against her appears to be stacking up. Begrudgingly on Le Froy's part, Su Lin agrees to chaperon Nicole at the Farquhar Hotel, intending to get the truth out of her somehow. But as she uncovers secrets and further deaths occur, Su Lin realises she may not be able to save Nicole's life - or even her own.

Reading Room Remarks:  Ovidia Yu brings Singapore alive for readers with this second series, featuring Su Lin, a young amateur sleuth and aspiring journalist.  The first book in this series is The Frangipani Tree Mystery.  I'm just getting to this series, but I know I will love it as much as I do Ovidia Yu's Aunty Lee Mysteries.  Charm is a big part of this author's characters, but don't let that fool you into thinking that these female protagonists aren't strong as steel, too.  June's release is for the e-book.  Print format will be out in October.

With Mrs. Hudson gone from their lives and domestic chaos building, the last thing Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, need is to help an old friend with her mad and missing aunt.

Lady Vivian Beaconsfield has spent most of her adult life in one asylum after another, since the loss of her brother and father in the Great War. And although her mental state seemed to be improving, she’s now disappeared after an outing from Bethlem Royal Hospital . . . better known as Bedlam.

Russell wants nothing to do with the case—but she can’t say no. And at least it will get her away from the challenges of housework and back to the familiar business of investigation. To track down the vanished woman, she brings to the fore her deductive instincts and talent for subterfuge—and of course enlists her husband’s legendary prowess. Together, Russell and Holmes travel from the grim confines of Bedlam to the winding canals and sun-drenched Lido cabarets of Venice—only to find the foreboding shadow of Benito Mussolini darkening the fate of a city, an era, and a tormented English lady of privilege.

Reading Room Remarks:  One of my most memorable reading experiences was the discovery of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series by Lauri R. King in reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice, first novel in the series.  Catching up in the series at that time meant reading five books one after the other, a reading dream come true.  Now, with the fifteenth full-length book, I'm as eager as ever to dive in and spend time with two of my favorite people, uh, I mean, characters.

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong―one of the most popular girls in school―disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong's remains are discovered in the woods near Geo's childhood home. And Kaiser―now a detective with Seattle PD―finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he's something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo's first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela's death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it? Find out in Jennifer Hillier's Jar of Hearts.

Reading Room Remarks:  There are times in my reading life when I realize that I have missed out on reading an amazing author, and Jennifer Hillier falls into this area of regret.  I do plan on addressing that misstep by reading Jar of Hearts, a book that is buzzing all over the place.  Another book of hers that I am determined to go back and read is the thriller Wonderland.  Of course, I realize that reading these two will create the need to catch up on all her books.  

Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi is a recent transfer from the London metro police to the rugged Kentish countryside. She's done little to ingratiate herself with her new colleagues, who find her too brash, urban, and--to make matters worse, she investigated her first partner, a veteran detective, and had him arrested on murder charges. Now assigned the brash young Constable Jill Ferriter to look after, she's facing another bizarre case: a woman found floating in local marsh land, dead of no apparent cause.

The case gets even stranger when the detectives contact the victim's next of kin, her son, a high-powered graphic designer living in London. Adopted at the age of two, he'd never known his mother, he tells the detectives, until a homeless woman knocked on his door, claiming to be his mother, just the night before: at the same time her body was being dredged from the water.

Juggling the case, her aging mother, her teenage daughter, and the loneliness of country life, Detective Cupidi must discover who the woman really was, who killed her, and how she managed to reconnect with her long lost son, apparently from beyond the grave. 
Reading Room Remarks:  Last year I read The Birdwatcher by William Shaw and was fascinated by the harsh landscape of the isolated Kentish countryside.  It is not a land for the weak, and Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi, who was introduced in The Birdwatcher, seems up to the challenge of living and working there in spite of her personal struggles.  I'm looking forward to finding out how Shaw develops Cupidi as the main character and the mysteries that must be solved along the lonely Kentish coast.