A frothy retro cocktail with a whodunit chaser.

SHANGHAI SECRETS

A carefree cadre of Australian artists probe a shocking murder in war-torn 1935 Shanghai.

Despite his status as the family’s renegade, suave Sydney artist Rowland Sinclair is tapped by his starchy elder brother, Wilfred, to go to Shanghai to handle international wool negotiations for Sinclair Holdings. Intrigued by the city’s vibrancy and turmoil, Rowland’s friends—poet Milton Isaacs, artist Clyde Watson Jones, and sculptress and model Edna Higgins—accompany him and take up residence in the posh Cathay Hotel. Gentill opens each chapter with a short news item from the time, adding welcome context to the story by describing the dangerous encroachment of Japan, the threat of Communism, and the influx of Russian refugee women and German Jews, weaving each development into the story. Making lively banter and diving into local culture are high on the visitors’ agenda. On a night out at The Jazz Club, Rowland dances twice with beautiful Russian Alexandra Romanova, and they make a date for tea the following afternoon. The next day, he’s horrified to discover Alexandra’s corpse in his suite. Grim Inspector Randolph regards him as the prime suspect. Rowland's peril, coupled with the deep grief of Alexandra’s brother, Sergei, prompts the party to investigate, leading to even more elaborate explorations of Shanghai. A subplot that should delight series fans brings Rowland and Edna within a whisker of progressing from the friendship zone to unabashed romance.

A frothy retro cocktail with a whodunit chaser.  

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4642-1361-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Hitler may not live, but Heil Hitler is alive and all too well.

THE KAISER'S WEB

The rise of a neo-fascist with deep roots in the Third Reich pulls not-exactly-retired Justice Department agent Cotton Malone back for a 16th round of international intrigue.

A specter is haunting Europe. No, not the coronavirus but Theodor Pohl, an insurgent German nationalist who’s set his sights first on toppling long-serving chancellor Marie Eisenhuth, then on making the Fatherland great again—really, really great. Barely have Malone and his lover and comrade in arms Cassiopeia Vitt dusted themselves off from their leap from their mortally wounded plane in Poland on a single parachute than ex-President Danny Daniels is packing them off to Chile to investigate rumors that Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun, and Martin Bormann didn’t all die in that bunker in 1945; at least one of them escaped to South America with billions in Nazi gold. The trip to Chile produces some eye-popping revelations and whittles down the cast, but instead of settling matters for good, it propels Malone and Vitt to South Africa for further investigations among people determined to be left alone until their time has come. Meanwhile, back in Germany, the chancellor realizes that she’s being undermined by not only Pohl and his ruthless acolyte, Josef Engle, but her xenophobic husband, Kurt Eisenhuth, whose past is even more checkered than she knows. Cannily mixing historical research with florid inventions that fill in gaps and sometimes fly in the face of the available evidence, Berry presents an ominously up-to-date world whose frenzied nationalism is a direct descendant of the Thousand-Year Reich.

Hitler may not live, but Heil Hitler is alive and all too well.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-4034-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A layered and nuanced mystery.

THE SURVIVORS

It’s been 12 years since Kieran Elliot left his hometown of Evelyn Bay under a dark cloud.

Evelyn Bay, on the Tasmanian coast, is a small, quiet town where everyone knows each other and the days roll by like the waves that lap at its secluded beaches. Now, Kieran has returned with his partner, Mia, and their 3-month-old daughter, Audrey, to help his mother move house so she can be closer to his father, who has dementia and will be moving into a nursing home. Kieran is glad to see old friends Ash, Olivia, and Sean, but tensions linger. After all, there are those who still blame Kieran for a boating accident that killed his older brother, Finn, and Sean’s brother, Toby. The vicious storm that raged that night also supposedly claimed the life of Olivia’s 14-year-old sister, Gabby, though her body was never recovered. When the body of Olivia’s housemate, art student Bronte, is found on the beach, a darkness as relentless as the tides comes pulsing to the surface, and it seems everyone has something to hide. As rumors spread on the community’s web page and alarm mounts about the possibility of a killer in their midst, the town’s secrets are steadily unfurled, coalescing into a few unexpected revelations. While this novel isn’t quite as suspenseful as Harper’s previous books, she’s a master at creating atmospheric settings, and it’s easy to fall under her spell.

A layered and nuanced mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23242-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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