I must first start with my now bi-monthly confession that I haven’t been reading as much as I ought, particularly mysteries. I have a two word explanation: daycare germs. The good news is though that my ‘To Read’ pile is particularly juicy and there is a lot that is coming in the next few months that I am looking forward to.
Anna Lee Huber joined the trend of female wartime spies with her new ‘Verity Kent’ series, set in London after WWII. Treacherous is the Night is the second book in that series. It’s hard to say too much without giving away the plot twist of the first book, This Side of Murder, but this new book features Verity struggling to find her place after losing her wartime assignment (like many women of the period). It also introduced me to the concept of battlefield tourism, where families visited the sites of their loved ones deaths. We’ve got Treacherous is the Night in new (and used, at time of printing) in trade paperback. I’m also excited for book #7 in Huber’s ‘Lady Darby Mystery’ series An Artless Demise, coming in trade paperback in April.
Genevieve Cogman’s ‘Invisible Library’ series is a great example of a crossover between mystery and fantasy. Book #5, The Mortal Word, is set in a version of 1890s Paris and features a clash between Librarians, Dragons, and the Fae and our fearless librarian Irene trying to negotiate peace. I will confess that this is a series that one should start from the beginning, but it is well worth it. Think of it like a more serious ‘Thursday Next’.
I will admit that I get nervous when a book starts alternating chapters from the ‘present’ to the ‘past’, but I should have known that Tasha Alexander could pull it off. Uneasy Lies the Crown is book #13 in her excellent ‘Lady Emily’ series. This is a point in a series where things can get boring or jump the shark, but I think Alexander continues to produce page-turning adventures for Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves. This book features the death of Queen Victoria and a possible threat to the new King. It is still in hardcover, but the trade paperback is coming in July and a new hardcover is planned for the fall. This is a series you could dip your toe into at any point without much trouble, as the back story is not a huge feature, although certainly worth going back for.
As to what I’m looking forward to adding to my pile (but hopefully for not too long), the trade paperback of Why Kill the Innocent?, also book #13 in C.S. Harris’ excellent ‘Sebastian St. Cyr’ series is coming at the end of February with the new hardcover, Who Slays the Wicked?, will be released at the beginning of April. I can’t say enough good things about this series that features two compelling characters in Sebastian and his headstrong wife Hero, as well as their immediate circle of imperfect associates. This is maybe a tough series to jump into mid-series, but a number of books are available in mass market (we have some in used, even), so it’s a worthwhile project to undertake.
I still miss Deanna Raybourn’s ‘Lady Julia Grey’ series, but her new-ish ‘Veronica Speedwell’ series is also excellent and certainly more fun. Book #3, A Treacherous Curse, will be released in trade paperback n mid-February and book #4, A Dangerous Collaboration, will be available in hardcover in March. There is something of a ‘will they or won’t they’ romantic sub-plot that I am beginning to find tedious, but I’m still buying this one on release.
And finally, two long awaited releases. As longtime newsletter readers know, I am a huge fan of Jasper Fforde and I have liked everything he has written, no matter how different it was from my beloved ‘Thursday Next’ series. But it’s been five years since The Eye of Zoltar (book #3 in his YA series ‘The Chronicles of Kazam’) and I despaired of anything coming down the pipe. But now there is a stand alone novel called Early Riser coming out in hardcover later this month. It sounds weird. It is categorized as ‘Fantasy - Contemporary / Dystopian / Thrillers’. But like I said, I have loved everything that Jasper Fforde has ever written, so I am willing to give it a try.
I loved Zen Cho’s The Sorcerer to the Crown when it came out four years ago. It was such a unique combination of fantasy and regency romance and gender/race issues. But as sometimes happens with sparkling debuts, book #2 took awhile (this is why agents will tell you to write book #2 while you query book #1). Finally though, book #2 is announced and The True Queen will be released in trade paperback in March. I’ll admit, this is one where I’m going to have to go back and read book #1 before I read the new title.
Finally, I really enjoy Brittany Cavallaro’s ‘Charlotte Holmes’ series, although I will include a bit of a content warning here as teenage Charlotte has the same penchant for drug-related vice as her storied ancestor. Book #3, The Case for Jamie, was just released in trade paperback (at a very reasonable $12.50). The next book, A Question of Holmes, will be released in hardcover in March. You’ll want to read the backlist on this one to catch up, as it might be a bit disorienting to jump later into the series (the Holmes, Watson, and Moriarty families get up to A LOT of shenanigans).