The holidays are over, but one peek outside of your window will tell you that winter is just beginning. During January the weather can always be a bit frightful, so why not wile away the dark days with so oh-so-delightful mysteries. In this overview, we round up some of the best of the genre releasing this month.
AN EYE FOR AN EYE
We hope you don’t have a squeamish stomach because this month there are several thrillers that will have you cringing with descriptions of gruesome crimes. In Jennifer McMahon’s The One I Left Behind (which was nominated for our January Seal of Excellence Award) a serial killer mutilates his victims by cutting off their hands. Reggie’s teenage life is turned upside down when her mother’s hand is discovered, but the body is never recovered. Twenty-five years later and Reggie’s mom is found alive, plunging the heroine into the mystery of why her mother survived and wondering if the killer will come back to finish what he started.
The violence is a bit further a field in Anne Zouroudi’s The Doctor of Thessaly which takes place in the Greek village of Morfi. Detective Hermes Diaktoros is once again on the case when a local doctor has acid thrown in his eyes. Who would want to hurt the man and how is the attack linked to several other troubling incidents in the small community?
This month, these kinds of unspeakable crimes aren’t contained to contemporary tales. In A Study in Revenge by Kieran Shields a thief is found burned to a crisp in 1893 Northeast America. Was the dead man part of a larger ring of deception? And can Deputy Archie Lean and criminalist Pereval Grey find the culprit before another victim surfaces?
A STUDY IN STRENGTH
Lori Armstrong’s character Mercy Gunderson, ex-soldier turned FBI agent, has taken the mystery world by storm. And her third outing, Merciless, out now, has RT reviewer Pat Cooper raving that Mercy is “one of the straightest-shooting female characters since Kinsey Millhone came down the pike.” We just love a tough lady, but there is certainly more to the multi-dimensional character than just her take charge personality. So we asked Armstrong what are some of Mercy’s greatest strengths as well as her vulnerabilities. Here is what the author had to say:
Mercy is adaptable to a change in plan or a change in environment. She's fiercely loyal to those she loves--even when at times she struggles to understand why she retains that type of loyalty. Also, the fact she doesn't judge everything as black or white or right or wrong gives her the ability to see situations from all sides. Plus after all that she's gone through, she's retained a sly sense of humor.
Mercy always had a great sense of self during her years in the army and defined herself as a soldier. Being more or less forced to retire due to her injury, she's had to re-evaluate who she is outside of her sniper scope. Starting over career-wise is hard at any age, but add in the tragedy of losing her father and returning to South Dakota to deal with her sister and the future of the family ranch, puts her on uneven footing. That's where her love interest Sheriff Dawson is such a perfect match for her--she trusts him enough to show him those vulnerabilities and he doesn't see her as weak.
- Lori Armstrong
For anyone’s New Year’s resolution was to go on a diet, you might not want to read this next section because we are about to discuss sweet treats. This month’s amateur sleuths seem to have one thing in common — their love for desserts. In Mary Jane Clark’s Footprints in the Sand, heroine Piper Donovan is on her way to her cousin’s wedding in Florida where she is the maid of honor and also the wedding’s baker. But her task of creating a sugar sand dollar-festooned wedding cake might have to wait when a bridesmaid disappears and Piper must solve the mystery. Readers get ready for another Donut Shop Mystery, Illegally Iced, from author Jessica Beck. Suzanne Hart is used to clearing other people’s names when they are wrongfully accused of a crime, but will she be able to prove her own innocence when she becomes the prime suspect in her neighbor’s murder? And if you are looking for a dose of magic with your serving of sweets, then you will want to pick up Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti from Bailey Cates. Katie Lightfoot’s life is hectic, but not just because she runs the Honeybee Bakery with her aunt and uncle. She is a witch-in-training with a penchant of sticking her nose into all the wrong places. And this time she is determined to uncover a killer after she discovers a dead body while on a picnic with her druid boyfriend.
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