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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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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If you're new to Penny's world, this would be a great place to jump in. Then go back and start the series from the beginning.

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ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE

Gamache goes to Paris.

Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec has had an eventful time in Penny's last few books, taking over as Chief Superintendent, uncovering corruption at the highest levels, facing public scorn, and finally ending up back where he started, as head of the homicide division. Penny has always been a master of pacing on a serieswide level, moving between the overarching corruption story and more local mysteries and also occasionally taking a break from Three Pines, the beloved, unmappable Quebec village that is the main setting. This time around, Gamache and his wife, Reine-Marie, a retired librarian, are spending time in Paris, where both of their children now live, waiting for their daughter, Annie, to give birth to her first child with husband Jean-Guy Beauvoir, Gamache's former second-in-command. Gamache takes the opportunity to visit the Rodin Museum with his godfather, billionaire Stephen Horowitz, who then joins the extended Gamache clan for dinner—only to be hit by a car and almost killed as they leave the restaurant. Gamache is convinced it was no accident—an impression reinforced the next morning when he and Reine-Marie go to Stephen's apartment and find the place has been ransacked and there's a dead body behind the sofa. Soon the whole family is involved in the investigation, and everyone has a part to play, from Reine-Marie, who visits the Archives nationales, to son Daniel, a venture capitalist who moved to Paris to escape his father's shadow. Gamache calls on an old friend, the head of the Paris police force, but can he be trusted? As always, Penny's mystery is meticulously constructed and reveals hard truths about the hidden workings of the world—as well as the workings of the Gamache family. But there's plenty of local color, too, with a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower to escape surveillance and a luxurious suite at the Hotel George V for good measure.

If you're new to Penny's world, this would be a great place to jump in. Then go back and start the series from the beginning.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-25-014523-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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