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!
This week, we have a new Veronica Speedwell Mystery from Deanna Raybourn and an exciting debut from Jane Harper. See what else the week brought for books!
A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn
London, 1887. Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task—saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman’s noose in a week’s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.
But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer—a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia’s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime. From a Bohemian artists’ colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed….
The Dry by Jane Harper
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.
Ring of Fire by Brad Taylor
Fifteen years ago, in order to win a contract in the Kingdom, a desperate defense contractor used a shell company to provide a bribe to a wealthy Saudi businessman. Now a powerful player in the defense industry, he panics when the Panama Papers burst onto the public scene. Providing insight into the illicit deeds of offshore financing, they could prove his undoing.
To prevent the exposure of his illegal activities, he sets in motion a plan to interdict the next leak, but he is not the only one worried about spilled secrets. The data theft has left the Taskforce potentially vulnerable, leaving a trail that could compromise the unit. Back in the good graces of the new president, Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill are ordered to interdict the next leak as well, in order to control the damage.
Unbeknownst to either group, the Saudi has been using the shell company to fund terrorists all over the world, and he has a spectacular attack planned, coinciding with the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. The information Pike and Jennifer uncover will put them on the trail of the imminent threat, but it’s one that they might be unable to stop.
Called Ring of Fire, it will cause unimaginable destruction across the United States, and the ensuing chaos and terror will distract the Taskforce from a truth no one sees: Ring of Fire was only the beginning, and the danger is far from over.
The Ripper's Shadow by Laura Joh Rowland
The year is 1888 and Jack the Ripper begins his reign of terror.
Miss Sarah Bain, a photographer in Whitechapel, is an independent woman with dark secrets. In the privacy of her studio, she supplements her meager income by taking illicit “boudoir photographs” of the town's local ladies of the night. But when two of her models are found gruesomely murdered within weeks of one another, Sarah begins to suspect it's more than mere coincidence.
Teamed with a motley crew of friends—including a street urchin, a gay aristocrat, a Jewish butcher and his wife, and a beautiful young actress—Sarah delves into the crime of the century. But just as she starts unlocking the Ripper's secrets, she catches the attention of the local police, who believe she knows more than she's revealing, as well as from the Ripper himself, now bent on silencing her and her friends for good.
Caught in the crosshairs of a ruthless killer, Sarah races through Whitechapel's darkest alleys to find the truth…until she makes a shocking discovery that challenges everything she thought she knew about the case.
Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson
The danger isn’t all in your head . . .
Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.
But soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.
When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves . . . until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment—and accidently learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? And what about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself . . . So how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?
Yet the danger Kate imagines isn’t nearly as twisted and deadly as what’s about to happen. When her every fear becomes very real.
And much, much closer than she thinks.