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 marks the return of Aurora Teagarden after a 13-year hiatus as well as a new Vera Stanhope mystery and Caitlin Strong novel! See what else you'll be reading this week:
Echoes of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon by Laurie R. King & Leslie Klinger
In this follow-up to the acclaimed In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, expert Sherlockians Laurie King and Les Klinger put forth the question: What happens when great writers/creators who are not known as Sherlock Holmes devotees admit to being inspired by Conan Doyle stories? While some are highly-regarded mystery writers, others are best known for their work in the fields of fantasy or science fiction. All of these talented authors, however, share a great admiration for Arthur Conan Doyle and his greatest creations, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
To the editors’ great delight, these stories go in many directions. Some explore the spirit of Holmes himself; others tell of detectives themselves inspired by Holmes’s adventures or methods. A young boy becomes a detective; a young woman sharpens her investigative skills; an aging actress and a housemaid each find that they have unexpected talents. Other characters from the Holmes stories are explored, and even non-Holmesian tales by Conan Doyle are echoed. The variations are endless!
Although not a formal collection of new Sherlock Holmes stories―however some do fit that mold―instead these writers were asked to be inspired by the Conan Doyle canon. The results are breathtaking, for fans of Holmes and Watson as well as readers new to Doyle’s writing―indeed, for all readers who love exceptional storytelling.
Strong Cold Dead by Jon Land
The terrorist organization ISIS is after a deadly toxin that could be the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. The same toxin holds the potential to eradicate cancer. There is a frantic race to see who can get to it first, even as Caitlin Strong begins to assemble the disparate pieces of a deadly puzzle.
At the center of that puzzle is an Indian reservation where a vengeful tycoon is mining the toxin, disguising his effort as an oil-drilling operation. This is the same reservation where Caitlin’s great-great-grandfather, also a Texas Ranger, once waged a similar battle against the forces of John D. Rockefeller.
In her highest-stakes adventure yet, Caitlin Strong faces off against a host of adversaries that just might include the beautiful Comanche girl with whom the son of her ex-outlaw boyfriend Cort Wesley Masters has fallen in love, along with a mythic monster culled from Native American folklore that the tribe believes has risen to protect its land. The lives of those Caitlin loves most are threatened by the villains she’s pursuing; her own moral code is challenged. The fate of both the country and the state she loves are dangling on the precipice of a strong cold death.
The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves
Life seems perfect in the quiet community of Valley Farm. Then a shocking discovery shatters the silence. The owners of a big country house have employed a house-sitter, a young ecologist, to look after the place while they’re away. But his dead body is found by the side of the lane―a lonely place to die.
When DI Vera Stanhope arrives on the scene, she finds the body of a second man. What the two victims seem to have in common is a fascination with studying moths―and with catching these beautiful, intriguing creatures.
The others who live in Valley Farm have secrets too: Lorraine’s calm demeanor belies a more complex personality; Annie and Sam’s daughter, Lizzie, is due to be released from prison; and Nigel watches, silently, every day, from his window. As Vera is drawn into the claustrophobic world of this increasingly strange community, she realizes that there may be many deadly secrets trapped there…
All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris
Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small Georgia town: four kids vanish from the school soccer field in an afternoon. Aurora’s 15-year-old brother Phillip is one of them. Also gone are two of his friends, and an 11-year-old girl who was just hoping to get a ride home from soccer practice. And then there’s an even worse discovery―at the kids’ last known destination, a dead body.
While the local police and sheriff’s department comb the county for the missing kids and interview everyone even remotely involved, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the death and kidnappings have anything to do with a group of bullies at the middle school? Is Phillip’s disappearance related to Aurora’s father’s gambling debts? Or is Phillip himself, new to town and an unknown quantity, responsible for taking the other children? But regardless of the reason, as the days go by, the most important questions remain. Are the kids still alive? Who could be concealing them? Where could they be?
With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother…if he’s still alive.
Teetotaled by Maia Chance
After her philandering husband died and left her penniless in Prohibition-era New York, Lola Woodby escaped with her Swedish cook to the only place she could―her deceased husband’s secret love nest in the middle of Manhattan. Her only comforts were chocolate cake, dime store detective novels, and the occasional highball (okay, maybe not so occasional). But rent came due and Lola and Berta were forced to accept the first job that came their way, leading them to set up shop as private detectives operating out of Alfie’s cramped love nest.
Now Lola and Berta are in danger of losing the business they’ve barely gotten off the ground―work is sparse and money is running out. So when a society matron offers them a job, they take it―even if it means sneaking into a slimming and exercise facility and consuming only water and health food until they can steal a diary from Grace Whiddle, a resident at the “health farm.” But barely a day in, Grace and her diary escape from the facility―and Grace’s future mother-in-law is found murdered on the premises. Lola and Berta are promptly fired. But before they can climb into Lola’s brown and white Duesenberg Model A and whiz off the health farm property, they find themselves with a new client and a new charge: to solve the murder of Grace’s future mother-in-law.