Every Wednesday, we here at Criminal Element will put together a list of Staff Picks of the books that published the day before—sharing the ones that we are looking forward to reading the most!
Check back every Wednesday and see what we're reading for the week!
Seeds of Deception by Linda Castillo
It's autumn in Painter's Mill, and fourteen year old Katie Burkholder has been tasked with picking apples in Zimmerman’s Orchard with her brother. It’s just another day filled with chores—until her best friend Mattie arrives to help. Somehow, boredom transforms into fun and games whenever the girls are together. The innocent fun comes to an end when Billy Marquardt and his gang of friends interrupts. Katie is no prude, but she knows better than to associate with the older English boys, especially since they’re known troublemakers. Mattie has no such compunction. Thumbing her nose at the Ordnung and all of the Amish rules, she disappears into the old barn with Billy.
Moments later, the Zimmerman’s barn is consumed by fire. Katie suspects Billy had something to do with the blaze, but he denies it. When the facts don’t add up, Katie begins her own investigation—and she doesn’t like what she finds. Will her friendship with Mattie survive the truth?
Stealing the Countess by David Housewright
Since becoming an unlikely millionaire and quitting the St. Paul Police Department, Rushmore McKenzie has been working as an unlicensed private investigator, basically doing favors for friends and people in need. But even for him, this latest job is unusual. He's been asked to find a stolen Stradivarius, known as the Countess Borromeo, that only the violinist seems to want him to find.
Stolen from a locked room in a B&B in the violinist's former hometown of Bayfield, Wisconsin, the violin is valued at $4 million and is virtually irreplaceable. But the foundation that owns it and their insurance company refuses to think about buying it back from the thief (or thieves.) However, Paul Duclos, the violinist who has played it for the past twelve years, is desperate to get it back and will pay out of his own pocket to get it back.
Though it's not his usual sort of case, McKenzie is intrigued and decides to try and help, which means going against the local police, the insurance company, the FBI's Art Crime division, and his own lawyer's advice. And, as he quickly learns, there's a lot more going on than the mere theft of a priceless instrument.
Wedding Bel Blues by Maggie McConnon
Are they tying the knot?
Belfast McGrath has spent the last fifteen years avoiding her big, bustling, brash Irish family. But when her five-star culinary career goes up in flames, she retreats to Foster’s Landing―where she’s immediately tapped as her cousin Caleigh’s maid-of-honor. It’s a perfect recipe for disaster…especially when Bel learns that the wedding preparations included Caleigh having one last one-night stand.
Or the noose?
When Caleigh’s lover plunges from the second-floor balcony during the reception, Bel can’t help but think his death was no accident. Soon Detective Kevin Hanson, who just happens to be Bel’s long-ago love, arrives on the scene―looking hotter than ever. Heartbreak and homicide hardly help Bel to feel more at home, but if she is going to make a new beginning for herself, including putting the past behind her, she must first steer clear of a cold-hearted killer.
See also: Wedding Bel Blues: New Excerpt
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs—the painter—and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.
With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members—including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot—the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers' intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.
Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.
A Hero of France by Alan Furst
1941. The City of Light is dark and silent at night. But in Paris and in the farmhouses, barns, and churches of the French countryside, small groups of ordinary men and women are determined to take down the occupying forces of Adolf Hitler. Mathieu, a leader of the French Resistance, leads one such cell, helping downed British airmen escape back to England.
Alan Furst’s suspenseful, fast-paced thriller captures this dangerous time as no one ever has before. He brings Paris and occupied France to life, along with courageous citizens who outmaneuver collaborators, informers, blackmailers, and spies, risking everything to fulfill perilous clandestine missions. Aiding Mathieu as part of his covert network are Lisette, a seventeen-year-old student and courier; Max de Lyon, an arms dealer turned nightclub owner; Chantal, a woman of class and confidence; Daniel, a Jewish teacher fueled by revenge; Joëlle, who falls in love with Mathieu; and Annemarie, a willful aristocrat with deep roots in France, and a desire to act.
As the German military police heighten surveillance, Mathieu and his team face a new threat, dispatched by the Reich to destroy them all.
Shot through with the author’s trademark fine writing, breathtaking suspense, and intense scenes of seduction and passion, Alan Furst’s A Hero of France is at once one of the finest novels written about the French Resistance and the most gripping novel yet by the living master of the spy thriller.