As anyone who’s spoken to me for more than .000002 seconds knows. I’m super passionate about having more diversity in my beloved mystery genre. As you might imagine, I get a lot of people asking me for recommendations of mysteries and thrillers written by diverse authors. Here are five new books I’m super excited about:
Release Date: Out now!
Praise: “Lepionka is setting a high standard for crime fiction with the complex Roxane Weary at its heart.”―Booklist (starred review)
Genre: Private Detective
The thrilling follow up to The Last Place You Look, starring troubled and determined private investigator, Roxane Weary
Marin Strasser has a secret. Her fiancé thinks her secret is that she’s having an affair, and he hires P.I. Roxane Weary to prove it. Then, just days into the case, Marin is shot to death on a side street in an apparent mugging. But soon enough the police begin to focus on Roxane’s client for Marin’s death, so she starts to dig deeper into Marin’s life—discovering that the elegant woman she’s been following has a past and a half, including two previous marriages, an adult son fresh out of prison, and a criminal record of her own. The trail leads to a crew of con artists, an ugly real estate scam that defrauds unsuspecting elderly homeowners out of their property, and the suspicious accident of a wealthy older woman who lives just down the street from where Marin was killed.
With Roxane’s client facing a murder indictment, the scammers hit close to home to force Roxane to drop the case, and it becomes clear that the stakes are as high as the secrets run deep.
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Praise: “Distinctive, vividly written characters lift this promising debut. Readers will be eager for the sequel.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Genre: Private Detective
Former cop Cass Raines has found the world of private investigation a less stressful way to eke out a living in the Windy City. But when she stumbles across the dead body of a respected member of the community, it’s up to her to prove a murderer is on the loose . . .
Cops can make mistakes, even when they’re not rookies. If anyone knows that it’s Cass Raines, who took a bullet two years ago after an incompetent colleague screwed up a tense confrontation with an armed suspect. Deeply traumatized by the incident, Cass resigned from the Chicago PD, leaving one less female African-American on the force. Now she’s the head of a one-woman private investigation agency, taking on just enough work to pay the bills. She spends the rest of her time keeping an eye on the tenants in her little Hyde Park apartment building, biking along the lakefront, and playing chess with the only father figure she’s ever known, Father Ray Heaton.
When Father Ray asks Cass to look into a recent spate of vandalism at his church, she readily agrees to handle the case. But only hours later she’s horrified to discover his murdered body in the church confessional, a dead gangbanger sprawled out nearby. She knew Pop, as she called him, had ticked off plenty of people, from slumlords to drug dealers and even some parishioners and politicians, with his uncompromising defense of the downtrodden. But a late-night random theft doesn’t seem like much of a motive at a cash-strapped parish like Saint Brendan’s.
The lead detective assigned to the case is all too ready to dismiss it as an interrupted burglary gone awry, just another statistic in a violent city. But Cass’s instincts tell her otherwise, and badge or no badge, she intends to see justice done.
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Praise: “Engrossing…there’s no denying her page-turner’s grab-you-by-the-throat power.” ―Publishers Weekly
Genre: Psychological Suspense
This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .
When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.
But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.
To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.
For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.
While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.
How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it? Find out in Jennifer Hillier’s Jar of Hearts.
Secrets, Lies, & Crawfish Pies (A Romaine Wilder Mystery Book 1) by Abby L. Vandiver
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Praise: “Snappy series launch. The amusing narrative zips along, providing a multilayered plot with loads of plausible suspects and possible motives. Cozy fans will look forward to Romaine’s future exploits.” ―Publishers Weekly
Romaine Wilder, big-city medical examiner with a small-town past, has been downsized and evicted. With few other options, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Roble in East Texas, leaving behind the man she’s dating and the life she’s worked hard to build.
Suzanne Babet Derbinay, Romaine’s Auntie Zanne and proprietor of the Ball Funeral Home, has long since traded her French Creole upbringing for Big Texas attitude. She’s a member in a number of ladies’ auxiliaries and clubs, including being in charge of the Tri-County Annual Crawfish Boil and Music Festival.
Hanging on to the magic of her Louisiana roots, she’s cooked up a love potion or two—if she could only get Romaine to drink it. But her plans are derailed when the Ball Funeral Home, bursting at the seams with dead bodies, has a squatter stiff.
Dead Guy is a problem.
Auntie Zanne can’t abide by a murderer using her funeral home as the dumping grounds for their crimes, and Romaine doesn’t want her newly elected cousin, Sheriff Pogue Folsom, to fail on his first murder case. Together, Romaine and Auntie Zanne set off to solve it.
With a dash of humor, a dollop of Southern charm, and a peek at current social issues in the mix, it’s a fun romp around East Texas to solve a murder mystery of the cozy kind.
Release Date: July 1, 2018
Praise: “Sure to delight fans of Easy Rawlins. I loved watching RJ Franklin dodging well-meaning matchmakers and brazen women while trying to solve a murder.” ― Victoria Thompson, bestselling author of Murder On Union Square
Genre: Traditional Mystery
A house fire is extinguished to reveal the body of a choir director. The smell of gasoline points to murder.
Thomas Warrendale was employed by First Baptist Church, where Detective RJ Franklin Jr. is a parishioner. Recovering from a car accident, RJ is on leave from the police force in St. Joseph, Indiana, when this puzzling case calls him back. His insider’s knowledge makes him the obvious choice to lead the investigation.
The congregation doubled after Warrendale revamped the music to appeal to a more youthful crowd. RJ’s godmother, Mama B, gives the detective an earful about the choir director’s non-musical activities. Warrendale was also an accountant and a “fancy pants” seducer. His clients believe the man was stealing from them. Warrendale turns out to be an alias; his real name was Tyrone Warren, once a highly paid CPA in Cleveland. Was Warren in hiding? From his stone-faced wife? A disgruntled client? Now someone is breaking in to the dead choir director’s office and the homes of his former clients. Believing the vandal to be the killer, RJ is particularly concerned about the safety of one client, the striking owner of two hair salons.
Book 1 in the RJ Franklin Mystery series. Soul food recipes included.
And one completely self-serving bonus pick by an author who I swear I don’t know yet find to be amazingly charming, funny and modest!
Release Date: August 8, 2018
Praise: “Kellye Garrett’s Hollywood Ending glitters with stardust. A fun, fast-paced mystery, it’s definitely an A-lister.” ― Elaine Viets, author of the Dead-End Job mysteries
Genre: Traditional Mystery
Tinseltown’s awards season is in full swing, and everyone is obsessed with dressing up, scoring free swag, and getting invited to the biggest awards shows of the year. But when popular Silver Sphere Awards publicist Lyla Davis is killed during a botched ATM robbery, the celebratory mood comes to an abrupt halt.
Dayna Anderson—an actress turned apprentice private investigator—uncovers the killer almost immediately. Unfortunately, what starts as an open-and-shut case turns out to be anything but. Lyla’s murder was no robbery-gone-wrong. Someone hired the gunman to kill her. Diving back into the investigation, Dayna gets a backstage look at the worlds of gossip blogging, Hollywood royalty, and one of entertainment’s most respected awards shows—all while trying to avoid her own Hollywood ending.
What about you, Readers? Any of these books already on your To-Be-Read list? Any other books you’re super excited about this summer? Share in the comments!