Staff Picks: A great deliverance

by Elizabeth George,  

This extraordinarily well-reviewed first novel introduces Scotland Yard’s Inspector Thomas Lynley and his assistant, Barbara Havers, as they investigate a daughter’s brutal murder of her deeply religious father.

Staff Picks: A share in death

by Deborah Crombie,  

“A mystery introducing Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James”

Staff Picks: Wish you were here

by Martha Grimes,  

Curiosity just might be the death of Mrs. Murphy–and her human companion, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen.  Small towns are like families:  Everyone lives very close together. . .and everyone keeps secrets.  Crozet, Virginia, is a typical small town-until its secrets explode into murder.  Crozet’s thirty-something post-mistress, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, has a tiger cat (Mrs. Murphy) and a Welsh Corgi (Tucker), a pending divorce, and a bad habit of reading postcards not addressed to her.  When Crozet’s citizens start turning up murdered, Harry remembers that each received a card with a tombstone on the front and the message “Wish you were here” on the back.  Intent on protecting their human friend, Mrs. Murphy and Tucker begin to scent out clues.  Meanwhile, Harry is conducting her own investigation, unaware her pets are one step ahead of her.  If only Mrs. Murphy could alert her somehow, Harry could uncover the culprit before the murder occurs–and before Harry finds herself on the killer’s mailing list.

Staff Picks: The sweetness at the bottom of the pie

by C. Alan Bradley,   

It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.

For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

Staff Picks: Murder on Astor Place

by Victoria Thompson,  

As a midwife in turn-of-the-century New York, Sarah Brandt has seen pain and joy. Now she will work for something more–a search for justice–in a case of murder involving one of New York’s richest families.

Staff Picks: Murphy’s law : a Molly Murphy mystery

by Rhys Bowen,   

“When spirited redhead Molly Murphy was growing up a peasant on the coast of Ireland, she always imagined there was something more in store for her. She couldn’t have known how right she was until the day she became a killer, albeit in self-defense. Under drastic circumstances, Molly is forced to strike out into a new world. With the police right behind her, Molly concludes that her only chance at escape is a false identity and a steamship that will take her far, far away: to America.” “When her ship sails into New York Harbor, with the majestic figure of the Statue of Liberty providing comfort and inspiration, Molly is sure her whole life is in front of her. But she’s got one last hurdle to clear: Ellis Island. She is just one among thousands of immigrants on the tiny island, awaiting their fate with anxiety and hope. Unfortunately for Molly, before she is able to leave the island, a man is brutally murdered, his throat cut from ear to ear, and coincidence and fate make her a suspect in a crime she didn’t commit. Under a cloud of suspicion, and due largely to a growing mutual attraction between Molly and the handsome police captain in charge of the case, she is allowed to leave Ellis Island for Manhattan. Unfortunately, she’s got a mission she couldn’t have anticipated: to clear her own name of murder. Alone in a new country with no one to lean on, Molly hits the vibrant streets of New York intent on finding out what really happened. After all, if she can’t, she’ll be sent back to Ireland, where the dreaded gallows awaits.”

Staff Picks: The return of Captain John Emmett

by Elizabeth Speller,  

London, 1920. In the aftermath of the Great War and a devastating family tragedy, Laurence Bartram has turned his back on the world. But with a well-timed letter, an old flame manages to draw him back in. Mary Emmett’s brother John—like Laurence, an officer during the war—has apparently killed himself while in the care of a remote veterans’ hospital, and Mary needs to know why.

Aided by his friend Charles—a dauntless gentleman with detective skills cadged from mystery novels—Laurence begins asking difficult questions. What connects a group of war poets, a bitter feud within Emmett’s regiment, and a hidden love affair? Was Emmett’s death really a suicide, or the missing piece in a puzzling series of murders? As veterans tied to Emmett continue to turn up dead, and Laurence is forced to face the darkest corners of his war experiences, his own survival may depend on uncovering the truth.

Staff Picks: Maisie Dobbs : a novel

by Jacqueline Winspear,  

Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence—and the patronage of her benevolent employers—she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.

Staff Picks: Full dark house

by Christopher Fowler,  

A bomb rips through present-day London, tragically ending the crime-fighting partnership of Arthur Bryant and John May begun more than a half-century ago during another infamous bombing: the Blitz of World War II. Desperately searching for clues to the saboteur’s identity, May finds the notes his old friend kept of their very first case and a past that may have returned…with murderous vengeance. It was an investigation that began with the grisly murder of a pretty young dancer. In a city shaken by war, a faceless killer stalked London’s theater row, creating his own sinister drama. And it would take Bryant’s unorthodox techniques and May’s dogged police work to catch a fiend whose ability to escape detection seemed almost supernatural—a murderer who decades later may have returned to kill one of them…and won’t stop until he kills the other.

Staff Picks: A simple murder

by Eleanor Kuhns,  

Five years ago, while William Rees was still recovering from his stint as a Revolutionary War soldier, his beloved wife died. Devastated, Will Rees left his son, David, in his sister’s care, fled his Maine farm, and struck out for a tough but emotionally empty life as a traveling weaver. Now, upon returning unexpectedly to his farm, Rees discovers that David has been treated like a serf for years and finally ran away to join a secluded religious sect-the Shakers.Overwhelmed by guilt and hoping to reconcile with his son, Rees immediately follows David to the Shaker community. But when a young Shaker woman is brutally murdered shortly after Rees’s arrival, Rees finds himself launched into a complicated investigation where the bodies keep multiplying, a tangled web of family connections casts suspicion on everyone, and the beautiful woman on the edge of the Shaker community might be hiding troubling ties to the victims. It quickly becomes clear that in solving Sister Chastity’s murder, Rees may well expose some of the Shaker community’s darkest secrets, not to mention endanger his own life.An atmospheric portrait of a compelling time in American history, A Simple Murder is an outstanding debut from Eleanor Kuhns, Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America’s 2011 First Crime Novel Competition Winner.