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Based on true events, March’s crisply written debut combines fascinating historic details with a clever puzzle.

In colonial India, a fledgling sleuth probes the inexplicable deaths of two young women.

While recuperating in hospital from battle injuries in 1892 Poona, Capt. James Agnihotri, of the 14th Light Cavalry Regiment, becomes interested in the case of two young women who fell to their deaths from a university clock tower. A lifelong fan of Sherlock Holmes, Jim is moved by a letter published in the local newspaper from Adi Framji, the husband of one victim and brother of the other, pleading for justice. Maneck Fitter stood accused of causing the deaths, but the young man was released for lack of evidence. Leaving the army behind, Jim gets a job as a reporter for The Chronicle of India and soon finds Adi, who quickly becomes Watson to his Holmes. The eldest of six children, Adi lost his unworldly wife, Bacha, and secretive sister, Pilloo, to the killer. The investigative duo becomes a trio with the arrival from Liverpool of Adi’s sister, Diana, who adds feminine insight and a romantic interest for Jim. The investigation begins at the library near the tower, where the librarian verifies the story of Maneck arguing loudly with two black-clad men shortly before the tragedy. Like the last page of the medical examiner’s report on the victims, garments found under a library table have mysteriously disappeared. A pair of attacks convinces Jim that he’s closing in on the killer. When Jim finally talks to Maneck, who stayed mute during his trial, he expresses fears for his own safety and suggests that Jim dig deeper into the Framji family.

Based on true events, March’s crisply written debut combines fascinating historic details with a clever puzzle.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-25-026954-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Intrigue, murder, and vengeance make for a darkly enjoyable read.

A woman’s life takes a stunning turn and a wall comes tumbling down in this tense Cold War spy drama.

In Berlin in 1989, the wall is about to crumble, and Anne Simpson’s husband, Stefan Koehler, goes missing. She is a translator working with refugees from the communist bloc, and he is a piano tuner who travels around Europe with orchestras. Or so he claims. German intelligence service the BND and America’s CIA bring her in for questioning, wrongly thinking she’s protecting him. Soon she begins to learn more about Stefan, whom she had met in the Netherlands a few years ago. She realizes he’s a “gregarious musician with easy charm who collected friends like a beachcomber collects shells, keeping a few, discarding most.” Police find his wallet in a canal and his prized zither in nearby bushes but not his body. Has he been murdered? What’s going on? And why does the BND care? If Stefan is alive, he’s in deep trouble, because he’s believed to be working for the Stasi. She’s told “the dead have a way of showing up. It is only the living who hide.” And she’s quite believable when she wonders, “Can you grieve for someone who betrayed you?” Smart and observant, she notes that the reaction by one of her interrogators is “as false as his toupee. Obvious, uncalled for, and easily put on.” Lurking behind the scenes is the Matchmaker, who specializes in finding women—“American. Divorced. Unhappy,” and possibly having access to Western secrets—who will fall for one of his Romeos. Anne is the perfect fit. “The matchmaker turned love into tradecraft,” a CIA agent tells her. But espionage is an amoral business where duty trumps decency, and “deploring the morality of spies is like deploring violence in boxers.” It’s a sentiment John le Carré would have endorsed, but Anne may have the final word.

Intrigue, murder, and vengeance make for a darkly enjoyable read.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64313-865-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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From the Lady Sherlock series , Vol. 8

Demands a careful reading and knowledge of the Victorian lady detective’s history.

A mystery that unwinds in reverse adds new twists to Thomas’ Sherlock Holmes–inspired series.

The new Charlotte Holmes novel continues the tense chess game that the gender-flipped Sherlock is playing with Moriarty and an incarcerated acquaintance turned villain. The events are narrated as a series of flashbacks interspersed with an interrogation in which Charlotte is under suspicion of murder. While her friend Inspector Treadles nervously observes, a senior policeman grills the unflappable detective about her recent movements. Even as she gives him a bland account of why she’s crisscrossed the English Channel in recent weeks, readers get drips of information about what she and her family and friends have been up to, all building to a reveal. Two other seemingly unrelated mystery subplots enter the picture, but it’s evident that new events and characters are connected to familiar ones from the past. With allusions to previous novels in the Lady Sherlock series and hat tips to Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Final Problem” and the Guy Ritchie movie Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the plot can be hard to follow, especially for new readers. The consistently well-drawn characters serve as an anchor, and the occasional glimpse of Charlotte’s love for her family and her lover, Lord Ingram Ashburton, adds a needed touch of warmth to the clever but clinical jigsaw structure of the mystery.

Demands a careful reading and knowledge of the Victorian lady detective’s history.

Pub Date: June 25, 2024

ISBN: 9780593640432

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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