A delightful classic village mystery studded with little-known World War II facts: a promising series debut.

OLIVE BRIGHT, PIGEONEER

A resourceful young Englishwoman gets involved in a homefront World War II mystery.

The departure of Olive Bright’s friend George for air force training leaves her at loose ends but eager to do something to live up to her mother’s World War I ambulance service. There's plenty to keep Olive occupied in the small village of Pipley, especially once she assumes the care and training of her father’s racing pigeons. Her father, a veterinary surgeon, is trying to get the pigeons included in the war effort. The villagers are going all out for victory, but hidden currents are being stirred up by nosy Verity Husselbee. When Jameson Aldridge shows up to see the pigeons, Olive, under the impression that he’s from the Pigeon Service, gives him a tour only to learn that he works for the secretive Baker Street intelligence organization. Sparks fly between Olive and Jamie, and she agrees to work with him and keep her father out of the loop. Leaving the village dance, Olive and Jamie, who are pretending to be dating, find that Olive’s helper, Jonathon, has stumbled over the body of Miss Husselbee, dead after eating a poisoned Spam cake at the refreshment table. Resolving to use the skills she’s learned from reading Agatha Christie novels to solve the crime, Olive must consider even her best friend a potential killer. As she juggles detective work with training her pigeons and cultivating her relationship with Jamie, she turns up some bombshell revelations.

A delightful classic village mystery studded with little-known World War II facts: a promising series debut.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4967-3151-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A top-class cozy infused with dry wit and charming characters who draw you in and leave you wanting more, please.

THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB

Four residents of Coopers Chase, a British retirement village, compete with the police to solve a murder in this debut novel.

The Thursday Murder Club started out with a group of septuagenarians working on old murder cases culled from the files of club founder Elizabeth Best’s friend Penny Gray, a former police officer who's now comatose in the village's nursing home. Elizabeth used to have an unspecified job, possibly as a spy, that has left her with a large network of helpful sources. Joyce Meadowcroft is a former nurse who chronicles their deeds. Psychiatrist Ibrahim Arif and well-known political firebrand Ron Ritchie complete the group. They charm Police Constable Donna De Freitas, who, visiting to give a talk on safety at Coopers Chase, finds the residents sharp as tacks. Built with drug money on the grounds of a convent, Coopers Chase is a high-end development conceived by loathsome Ian Ventham and maintained by dangerous crook Tony Curran, who’s about to be fired and replaced with wary but willing Bogdan Jankowski. Ventham has big plans for the future—as soon as he’s removed the nuns' bodies from the cemetery. When Curran is murdered, DCI Chris Hudson gets the case, but Elizabeth uses her influence to get the ambitious De Freitas included, giving the Thursday Club a police source. What follows is a fascinating primer in detection as British TV personality Osman allows the members to use their diverse skills to solve a series of interconnected crimes.

A top-class cozy infused with dry wit and charming characters who draw you in and leave you wanting more, please.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-98-488096-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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

THE MATCHMAKER

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. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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