Get ready for a bit of armchair traveling with this month’s novels. To Europe and beyond, November’s mysteries and suspense stories are sending readers on adventures in exotic locales. And after you are done with your journey, get ready to hear from a debut author who gives us some important insight into her heroine who has faced death many, many times. Next up on the agenda is a visit from J.T. Ellison as the author sleuths out the scariest setting for a thriller novel. And finally, in the cozy corner readers will recognize a few famous faces including an actress lookalike, reality show star and musician. So no matter what you are in the mood for — a lighthearted murder mystery set in Hollywood or a darker thriller that takes you further afield — readers are going to be able to find exactly what they are looking for in this roundup of November’s best mystery novels.
AROUND THE WORLD
We hope you have your passport handy because you are about set out on an international adventure! First up, prepare for a layover in Paris with Mark Pryor’s The Bookseller. But don’t expect the City of Light to be the site of romance, instead get ready for some thievery and murder investigated by Hugo Marston, a former FBI agent. Our next few stops are also in Europe — in Hungary and Denmark to be exact. In Invisible Murder, authors Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis revisit Red Cross nurse Nina Borg as she attempts to stop a deadly global epidemic. And if you are in the mood for changing time as well as location, Adrian McKinty does double duty by transporting readers to 1980s Belfast in The Cold Cold Ground. In an era of intolerance, religion and sexual orientation play a huge role in the story’s thrilling mystery. And our final destination is a bit farther to the east in India. While snow might not be falling between the pages of Anne Perry’s A Christmas Garland, that doesn’t mean the holiday spirit isn’t bright for Lieutenant Victor Narraway when he is sent to the foreign land to defend a fellow officer accused of killing a soldier.
EARLY FORENSIC SCIENCE
Anna Lee Huber has dazzled critics and readers alike with her debut novel, The Anatomist’s Wife. The story’s captivating heroine, Kiera Darby, and the lush historical setting are just two of the reasons why this book is heading straight to the top of mystery fans’ TBR piles. Another reason to pick up the book is the widowed heroine’s unusual pastime. Her late husband had her record his autopsies by drawing the proceedings. Prior to the invention of photography, drawing was the only way to depict many scientific discoveries, however, we can only imagine the shock and horror that a genteelly bred woman of the past might have felt by encountering a dead body. And while Kiera gained important knowledge about being an amateur sleuth by creating her illustrations, she wasn’t always ready to view a victim. Below, the author explains her heroine’s initial reaction when faced with death.
The first time Kiera was forced to view an autopsy, she was shocked and repulsed. Being a sheltered lady of her time, she had never encountered anything like it, and thus couldn’t possibly have been prepared for what she would see, and smell, and hear. However, being the intelligent, inquisitive person she was, she couldn’t help also being curious about the proceedings. In fact, this interest perhaps horrified her the most. If I were to view a live autopsy, I imagine I would feel many of the same emotions, though living in the twenty-first century as I do, with our advanced education and heightened exposure to such things, I would be much better prepared to deal with it. And there wouldn’t be the stigma, or religious and moral disapproval attached to my participation as there would have been for Kiera as an 1830 gentlewoman.
– Anna Lee Huber
PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES
J.T. Ellison’s recently released novel Edge of Black revolves around a silent attack in the Washington D.C. metro. What makes trains and other forms of transportation so ripe for thriller novels is the inherent sense of vulnerability while riding. It doesn’t matter if we are on a bus, a train or an airplane, these can be claustrophobic conditions. But there are many other settings that authors can mine for major chills and thrills. Interested in a post-Halloween scare, we asked J.T. what setting she thinks could be turned into the most frightening place of all.
You’ve hit the nail on the head with the vulnerability aspect of transportation. And the ultimate vulnerability comes from the one place we all feel safe — our homes. We all have a false sense of security behind closed doors. Whether you’re a powerful magnate that has a key code to a safe full of bearer bonds or gold that can be used to fund terrorist activity, or are a computer hacker who works out of a basement, or even an innocent wrongly accused who can’t return home for fear of arrest or murder, violating that sacred space preys on everyone’s deepest fears. Where can you run to if your safe place is no longer a viable option?
– J.T. Ellison
In November, it seems as fame is the name of the game, at least for the amateur sleuth tales. Three of the cozy mystery stories to hit shelves this month are all about making a connection to Hollywood and beyond. In the first story, Diane Vallere’s Pillow Stalk, interior decorator Madison Night is the spitting image of famed actress Doris Day. However, Madison might be singing “Que Sera Sera” herself when a serial killer starts coming after blonds. It is only a matter of time before Madison ends up as a victim unless she can find the culprit first. The next book on our cozy list features a famous country singer. In Death of a Country Fried Redneck by Lee Hollis, Hayley Powell is ecstatic that the chart topping Wade Springer will be in her neck of the woods. Hayley finds a way to become close to the crooner by getting hired on as the star’s private chef. But when one of Wade’s roadie’s ends up dead, Hayley puts the pots and pans aside in order to investigate. And our final celebrity read revolves around a reality TV show. In Not So Model Home by David James the housing market has dropped out of Palm Springs, so realtor Amanda Thorne needs a new gig, fast. She can’t pass up the opportunity to appear on a reality show, however, if she would have know that two of her fellow contestants would end up dead, perhaps she would have stayed out of the spotlight!
For more genre coverage be sure to keep your eye on the RT Daily Blog, pick up the latest copy of RT BOOK REVIEWS magazine and check out RT’s Everything Mystery Page!