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, Joe Gunther & Ryder Creed return and Lisa Turner takes us back down south. See what else to add to your TBR list this week!
A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward
Lena Grey is found guilty of murdering her husband, who was found smothered in their bed. She offers no defense, and serves fourteen long years in prison. But within months of her release nearly two decades later, his body is found in a disused morgue, recently killed. Who was the man she killed before, and why did she lie about his identity?
Detective Inspector Francis Sadler and his Derbyshire team try to discover how such a well-orchestrated deception could have occurred. DC Connie Childs is convinced that something greater than marital strife caused the murders, but before Lena can be questioned further, she vanishes. Back in Lena’s childhood home, her sister Kat, a therapist, is shocked by her sister’s duplicity. When she begins to receive mysterious packages from a young man claiming to know her sister’s location, Kat is drawn into her own investigation of her family’s well-hidden secrets. As her inquiries begin to collide with the murder investigation, a link to the sisters’ teenage lives emerges, and the line between victim and perpetrator becomes blurred.
Presumption of Guilt by Archer Mayor
A forty-year-old skeleton is found encased in a concrete slab at a recently decommissioned nuclear energy site. It becomes a case for the Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI) and its leader, Joe Gunther, since they have the resources and the ability to investigate an old, very cold, missing persons case that has now been reclassified as murder. The victim was Hank Mitchell, and Gunther must chase down old rumors and speculations—who benefited from his death and the disappearance of his body? And was his death somehow tied to New York City mafia money being laundered through the construction project?
But what seems the coldest of cold cases roars back to life when one of the central figures in this mystery is shot to death, right after speaking with Gunther. And when a young police officer—the son of VBI investigator Lester Spinney—is kidnapped, is that meant to be a warning to the VBI team to drop the case?
After all these many years, the truth behind the murder still has to the power to kill, and it’s up to Gunther and his team to capture the living and finally put the dead to rest.
Devil Sent the Rain by Lisa Turner
The heart can be an assassin. Detective Billy Able knows that from experience.
Fresh from solving Memphis’ most sensational murder case, Homicide Detective Billy Able and his ambitious new partner Frankie Malone are called to a bizarre crime scene on the outskirts of town. A high society attorney has been murdered while dressed in a wedding gown. Billy is shocked to discover he has a very personal connection to the victim. When the attorney’s death exposes illegal practices at her family’s prestigious law firm, the scandal is enough to rock the southern city’s social world.
In a tale of the remnants of Old South aristocracy and entitlement, twisted by greed and vengeance, Billy must confront the secrets of his own past to have any chance at solving the murder of the girl he once knew. But as he seeks the truth, he’s drawn closer to an embittered killer bent on revenge—and eliminating the threat Billy poses.
See also: Devil Sent the Rain: New Excerpt
Reckless Creed by Alex Kava
In Chicago, a young man jumps from his thirtieth-story hotel room; along the Missouri river, a hunter and his son stumble upon a lake whose surface is littered with snow geese, all of them dead; and in southern Alabama, Ryder Creed and his search-and-rescue dog Grace find the body of a young woman who went missing in the Conecuh National Forest…and it appears she filled her pockets with rocks and walked into the river. Before long Ryder Creed and FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell will discover the ominous connection among these mysterious deaths. What they find may be the most prolific killer the United States has ever known.
Combustion by Martin J. Smith
The dry season has hit the Inland Empire of California, depleting the ponds and revealing the muddy grave of Paul Dwyer. From his mansion on the hill, Dwyer lorded over Los Colmas, a small town that he aspired to make big by building mansions for wealthy LA commuters. Some viewed him as a savior, providing construction jobs for locals. Others believed he was ruining their beautiful, close-knit town. But who was angry enough to murder him?
Local cop Ron Starke is overwhelmed by the list of suspects and plagued by a difficult captain who is demanding results. Starke investigates Paul Dwyer's dirty money and handshake deals gone wrong, but the name at the top of the suspect list is the most intriguing, and chilling.
The developer wasn't the only one with secrets; his widow Shelby has kept her own for decades, none more harrowing than the horrific abuse she and her daughter endured at the hands of Dwyer. And none more volatile than what she knows but must hide about Paul's murder.
As the season’s wildfires intensify to historic levels and surge towards Los Colmas, Starke must discover who killed Dwyer before all the evidence burnsand the whole town is erased.