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, it's cozies and historical mysteries galore! See what we're reading:
Death in St. Petersburg by Tasha Alexander
After the final curtain of Swan Lake, an animated crowd exits the Mariinsky theatre brimming with excitement from the night’s performance. But outside the scene is somber. A ballerina’s body lies face down in the snow, blood splattered like rose petals over the costume of the Swan Queen. The crowd is silenced by a single cry— “Nemetseva is dead!”
Amongst the theatergoers is Lady Emily, accompanying her dashing husband Colin in Russia on assignment from the Crown. But it soon becomes clear that Colin isn’t the only one with work to do. When the dead ballerina’s aristocratic lover comes begging for justice, Emily must apply her own set of skills to discover the rising star’s murderer. Her investigation takes her on a dance across the stage of Tsarist Russia, from the opulence of the Winter Palace to the modest flats of ex-ballerinas and the locked attics of political radicals. A mysterious dancer in white follows closely behind, making waves through St. Petersburg with her surprise performances and trail of red scarves. Is it the sweet Katenka, Nemetseva’s childhood friend and favorite rival? The ghost of the murdered étoile herself? Or, something even more sinister?
The Four Horsemen by Gregory Dowling
Tour guide Alvise Marangon thinks he knows Venice better than ever, but now he finds himself ensnared by mysteries as obscure as the city and in many cases just as old.
Certain that he is finally about to have his guide’s license revoked after a tavern brawl, Alvise is instead dragooned into the service of Missier Grande, who has linked the death of one of his agents to a secret society known as the Four Horsemen. Every attempt that Missier Grande makes to investigate the matter is blocked by forces on high, and enlisting Alvise is a move of last resort—one last-ditch effort to uncover the crimes of the present in the secrets of the past before the future claims more lives.
Among the dark arcades and fetid canals of 18th-century Venice, Alvise is the one who finds himself led on a tour, at any turn of which could lie a fresh corpse or an ancient conspiracy.
Death Overdue by Allison Brook
Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she's offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies.
The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie’s determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it’s the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura's case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al.
Cat Among the Pumpkins by Mandy Morton
As All Hallows’ Eve approaches, Hettie Bagshot of The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency has more than just a ghost and warlock tart on her plate. Along with her faithful sidekick, Tilly, the tabby duo set out to investigate an old crime and a spate of new murders.
Why is Mavis Spitforce dressed as a pumpkin? Can Irene Peggledrip really talk to cats from the spirit world? Did Milky Myers murder his family on Halloween, longer ago than anyone can remember? All questions the pair must answer before the case can be solved. As the November fog closes in, where will the killer strike next—and will there be enough catnip to go around?
Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost
When Holly White’s fiancé cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime―exactly what the doctor prescribed. Except her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grouch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.
When the murder weapon is revealed as one of the wooden stakes used to identify trees on the farm, Sheriff Evan Grey turns to Holly’s father, Bud, and the Reindeer Games staff. And it doesn’t help that Bud and the reindeer keeper were each seen arguing with Margaret just before her death. But Holly knows her father, and is determined to exonerate him.The jingle bells are ringing, the clock is ticking, and if Holly doesn't watch out, she'll end up on Santa's naughty list.