Yesterday, I gave you my 10 most anticipated reads for March 2013 in SF/F/Horror. Today I’ve got the 10 books that I’m especially looking forward to in the mystery/suspense category (click on the covers to pre-order)!
Donnybrook by Frank Bill (FSG-March 5th)
Synopsis-The Donnybrook is a three-day bare-knuckle tournament held on a thousand-acre plot out in the sticks of southern Indiana. Twenty fighters. One wire-fence ring. Fight until only one man is left standing while a rowdy festival of onlookers—drunk and high on whatever’s on offer—bet on the fighters.
Jarhead is a desperate man who’d do just about anything to feed his children. He’s also the toughest fighter in southeastern Kentucky, and he’s convinced that his ticket to a better life is one last fight with a cash prize so big it’ll solve all his problems.
Meanwhile, there’s Chainsaw Angus—an undefeated master fighter who isn’t too keen on getting his face punched anymore, so he and his sister, Liz, have started cooking meth. And they get in deep. So deep that Liz wants it all for herself, and she might just be ready to kill her brother for it. One more showdown to take place at the Donnybrook.
Evil In All Its Disguises by Hilary Davidson (Forge-March 5th)
Synopsis-When travel writer Lily Moore joins a group of journalists for an all-expenses-paid press junket to Acapulco, she expects sun, sand, and margaritas. Instead, she finds that the Mexican city, once the playground of Hollywood stars, is a place of faded glamour and rising crime. Even the luxurious Hotel Cerón, isolated from the rest of the town, seems disturbing to her, with its grand, empty rooms, ever-watchful staff, and armed guards patrolling the grounds.
Lily isn’t the only one who suspects something rotten under the hotel’s opulent facade. Skye McDermott, another journalist on the trip, asks Lily for help with an article she’s working on about fraud and corruption in the hotel industry. Skye claims she’s eager to write a piece of real journalism rather than the fluff she’s known for. But she also lets slip that she’s deeply upset at a lover who jilted her, and she plans to exact her revenge by exposing his company’s illegal activities.
After Skye disappears suddenly, Lily suspects that her friend is in grave danger. But the hotel’s staff insists that everything is fine and refuses to contact the police. Only after Lily tries—and fails—to leave the Hotel Cerón does she discover the truth: the journalists are prisoners in a gilded cage.
Too late, Lily realizes that she has been maneuvered into the role of bait in a vicious, vengeful plot. Faced with unthinkable choices, Lily must summon all her strength to survive, confront the past she’s still running from, and save other lives.
Bay of Fires by Poppy Gee (Reagan Arthur-March 12th)
Synopsis-Sarah Avery’s reckless behavior has cost her a job, her boyfriend, and the independence she desperately craves. Reluctantly home for the holidays in the Bay of Fires, a tiny seaside town on the Tasmanian coast, she hopes for a calm, quiet visit, with time to reflect on all that’s gone wrong. Those hopes are crushed when, early one morning, she discovers the body of a young female backpacker washed up on the shore.
A year earlier, another woman went missing and hasn’t been seen since. Now everyone wonders: is there a killer in the brush? Or were these women victims of Tasmania itself? The island is place of savage beauty: pristine sand beneath orange-lichen covered granite boulders; heaving shadowy kelp fields; sweeping cold currents; crackling bush beyond the seashore. It’s also a landscape as flawed, vulnerable and vengeful as any human. Once its fragile peace is shattered, the locals’ anxiety fuels a string of speculations about happened to the women – and who might be the next victim.
When journalist Hall Flynn arrives to investigate, haunted by recent failures and yearning for a fresh start, he’s determined to do whatever it takes to break the story, and Sarah is his best source of local information. But Sarah – like everyone else in this close-knit town – has secrets she’s desperate to keep hidden. And one of those secrets leads straight to a killer’s door.
Haunting, evocative, as wildly atmospheric as the remote island where it takes place, BAY OF FIRES is a startling and wholly original debut.
Lucky Stiff by Annelise Ryan (Kensington-March. 5th)
Synopsis-It’s Christmas Day in the sleepy town of Sorenson, Wisconsin, but instead of unwrapping presents, deputy coroner Mattie Winston is at the burnt remains of a house, where a charred body has been found. The victim is none other than Jack Allen–a paraplegic who recently won a huge casino jackpot. Upon closer inspection, Mattie and detective Steve Hurley are convinced Jack was murdered to steal his winnings, giving the phrase Black Jack a whole new meaning. . .
But as Mattie investigates, even her cutting-edge forensic skills keep coming up short in a case with as many suspects as twists. After her odds-on-favorite turns up dead, Mattie and Hurley must race to find a killer before another victim cashes in his chips.
Criminal Enterprise by Owen Laukkanen (Putnam-March 21st)
Synopsis-From the outside, Carter Tomlin’s life looked perfect: a big house, pretty wife, two kids—a St. Paul success story. But Tomlin has a secret. He’s lost his job, the bills are mounting, and that perfect life is hanging by a thread. Desperate, he robs a bank. Then he robs another.
As the red flags start to go up, FBI Special Agent Carla Windermere homes in on Tomlin from one direction, while Minnesota state investigator Kirk Stevens picks up the trail from another. The two cops haven’t talked since their first case together, but that’s all going to change very quickly.
Because Carter Tomlin’s decided he likes robbing banks. And it’s not because of the money, not anymore. Tomlin has guns and a new taste for violence. And he’s not quitting anytime soon.
The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Söderberg (Crown-March 12th)
Synopsis-When Sophie Brinkmann meets Hector Guzman, her life is perfectly uneventful. She’s a nurse and a single mother, living with her son in a sleepy Stockholm suburb. She likes Guzman’s quiet charm and easy smile; she likes the way he welcomes her into his family. She quickly learns, though, that his smooth façade masks something much more sinister—he’s the head of an international crime ring that is at war with a rival organization. Before she can fully grasp the extent of his dangerous world, her life starts to come undone: her family is at risk, a long-lost friend mysteriously resurfaces, and she realizes that she can trust no one. Whether she likes it or not, she’s now at the center of a global turf war between Spanish drug traffickers, German gangsters, Russian hit men, and Swedish cops. To get out alive, and with her integrity intact, she will have to summon everything within her to navigate this intricate web of moral ambiguity, deadly obsession, and craven gamesmanship.
Bolero by Joanie McDonell (Thomas & Mercer-March 5th)
Synopsis-Bolero is one of those rare thrillers you truly can’t put down. A nonstop ride to an unexpected twist ending alongside the newest noir detective, Nick Sayler. Despite his bronze star with its prized V for valor, he was once a thief, junkie, and prime suspect in a murder case. Now he’s a mostly changed man, a private investigator with a long list of rich clients and a good life. But even after ten years there’s not enough whiskey in the world to wash away acid-etched memories of Julia Carteret, the beautiful woman who took a bullet meant for him.
He never expected a second chance to make things right until he got a midnight call from a distraught young doctor and a plea from a fragile dancer with no money, no memory, nothing in her pocket except Sayler’s card, and the number 44 carved across her back. With bewitching violet eyes she looks so much like Julia, Sayler thinks keeping her safe could put him back on the road to redemption. But not long after he takes her home to his Hudson River barge, he learns that she has a past as dark as his own, and soon he’s protecting her from a patient sociopath with seemingly preternatural power to be in two places at once. Sayler needs his wingman Meriwether, the brilliant savant, and his restless backup, Tommy Fallon NYPD homicide, whose dicey investigative methods keep them under the radar, which is the only place to be when Sayler taunts danger.
As he nears old secrets linking the dancer to a strange group: a voluptuous redhead, a concert pianist, a skateboarder, and a Polish nanny, he starts to learn why the murderer’s sex-stoked obsession can’t end until the girl is dead. When the killer who never sleeps gets the best of an exhausted Sayler on an isolated island off the coast of Connecticut, in Manhattan’s meatpacking district, and on the streets of Harlem, smart money might bet both ways, except for one sure thing: in spite of his bad leg and worse habits, no matter what the cost, Nick Sayler will not let another woman die.
Runaway Town by Jay Stringer (Thomas & Mercer-March 26th)
Synopsis-After narrowly surviving a vicious knife attack, gangland detective Eoin Miller thinks he’s earned a break from hunting down thieves, runaways, and stolen drug money. But when crime boss Veronica Gaines tips him off to a particularly sensitive new case, his Romani blood won’t let him say no. A rapist is targeting immigrant girls, and the half-gypsy Eoin knows all too well just how little help an outsider can expect from the local police. Besides, his client isn’t looking for someone to arrest the bastard. He’s looking for someone to stop him—for good.
But the deeper Eoin digs, the more tangled he becomes in a web of corruption, racism, and revenge…especially once his troubled past threatens to derail the investigation by raising questions about his own loyalty and family ties. With his life teetering on the brink of disaster, Eoin realizes there is a fine line between justice and punishment. Now it’s up to him to decide just which side he’s on.
**I loved Old Gold, the first novel in this series, and I’m ready for more!
The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne (HarperCollins-March 19th)
Synopsis-An eight-year-old boy is found dead in a playground . . . and his eleven-year-old neighbor is accused of the crime. Leading the defense is London solicitor Daniel Hunter, a champion of lost causes.
A damaged boy from a troubled home, Daniel’s young client, Sebastian, reminds Daniel of his own turbulent childhood—and of Minnie, the devoted woman whose love saved him. But one terrible act of betrayal irrevocably shattered their bond.
As past and present collide, Daniel is faced with disturbing questions. Will his sympathy for Sebastian and his own memories blind him to the truth? What happened in the park—and who, ultimately, is to blame for a little boy’s death? Rethinking everything he’s ever believed, Daniel begins to understand what it means to be wrong . . . and to be the guilty one.
It was pure luck that Josie Gray spotted Cassidy Harper’s car, abandoned on the side of the road. If she hadn’t, then she’d never have found Cassidy, lying nearly dead of heatstroke on the desert sand beside the body of a Mexican immigrant. But Cassidy can’t explain why she was out for a walk in the midday desert heat, let alone how she happened upon the corpse. And once Josie sees the ominous wounds on the man’s body, she knows she needs to find the answer fast, before her own life is in danger. Tricia Fields’s The Territory marked her as talented new author of Southwestern crime, and Scratchgravel Road marks an inventive new mystery set in the unique world of smalltown Texas.