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Blood of the Oak

Eliot Pattison (Counterpoint)

In 1765, ruthless killers are targeting messengers working for secret committees, whose leaders include Benjamin Franklin, in different American cities. In this superior fourth mystery featuring Scottish ex-pat Duncan McCallum, Pattison does a brilliant job of showing how political events of the era paved the way for the start of the Revolutionary War.


Don't Turn Out the Lights

Bernard Minier, trans. from the French by Alison Anderson (Minotaur)

French author Minier displays a rare gift for raising goose bumps in his intricate third thriller featuring Toulouse cop Martin Servaz, who is on leave six months after the sadistic killer he was hunting sent him the heart of a woman Martin was involved with. He gets back on the job after a new case leads him to a hotel where an artist committed suicide.


The Father: Made in Sweden, Part 1

Anton Svensson, trans. from the Swedish by Elizabeth Clark Wessel (Quercus)

Svensson, the pseudonym of screenwriter Stefan Thunberg and investigative journalist Anders Roslund, heartbreakingly blurs the line between criminal and victim in this stunning first of a two-novel series based on a sensational real-life string of bank robberies in 1990s Sweden.


Fields Where They Lay

Tim Hallinan (Soho Crime)

Edgar finalist Hallinan deserves to win an Edgar for his ingeniously plotted, often hilarious sixth Junior Bender novel, in which Junior, a professional thief, agrees to go undercover shortly before Christmas at a San Fernando Valley, Calif., shopping mall, where there's been a spike in shoplifting.


A Great Reckoning

Louise Penny (Minotaur)

The lyrical 12th entry in bestseller Penny's remarkable series finds former Chief Insp. Armand Gamache coming out of retirement to clean up the corrupt Sûreté Academy du Québec. This complex novel deals with universal themes of compassion, weakness in the face of temptation, forgiveness, and the danger of falling into despair and cynicism over apparently insurmountable evils.


The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins

Antonia Hodgson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Hodgson's outstanding second novel set in early 18th-century England charts the twisted path that leads Thomas Hawkins, a gentleman who has spent time in debtors' prison, to the gallows for murder. Will Hawkins get a last-minute pardon?


London Rain: A New Mystery Featuring Josephine Tey

Nicola Upson (Bourbon Street)

The coronation of George VI in 1937 provides the backdrop for Upson's psychologically complex sixth whodunit featuring real-life mystery writer Josephine Tey. Upson adroitly confounds the reader's expectations, and her subtle and emotionally intelligent exploration of Josephine's relationship with the writer's lover, Marta Hallard, adds depth.


Redemption Road

John Hart (St. Martin's/Dunne)

In Edgar-winner Hart's stellar crime thriller, North Carolina police detective Elizabeth Black faces the prospect of criminal charges arising from her gunning down two men she caught raping an 18-year-old girl. Though Hart employs plot twists effectively, it's his powerful, wounded but courageous lead whom readers will remember.


Underground Airlines

Ben H. Winters (Mulholland)

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in Winters's thriller set in a world where there was no Civil War and slavery still exists in four Southern states. Victor, an African-American bounty hunter, possesses a supreme talent for tracking down runaway slaves, but he begins to have doubts about his job after he penetrates an abolitionist organization in Indianapolis called Underground Airlines.


The Vampire Tree

Paul Halter, trans. from the French by John Pugmire (Locked Room International)

Newlywed Patricia Sheridan, the sympathetic if troubled heroine of this exquisite entry in Halter's long-running Dr. Alan Twist mystery series, has disturbing dreams about a tree in the garden of her husband's ancestral home soon after her arrival there. An ingeniously constructed fair-play puzzle, which will be hard for golden age fans to put down.


The Widow

Fiona Barton (NAL)

What would you do if your spouse suddenly became the prime suspect in the kidnapping of a two-year-old girl? That's the stomach-churning prospect that confronts London hairdresser Jean Taylor in this exceptional debut from British journalist Barton, who circles her story as if it were a lurking panther, unseen but viscerally sensed.


You Will Know Me

Megan Abbott (Little, Brown)

Thriller Award–winner Abbott takes a piercing look at what one family will sacrifice in the name of making their daughter a champion. For the parents of Devon Knox, nothing is more important than ensuring that the 16-year-old has everything she needs to pursue a possible Olympic berth in gymnastics, but murder upsets their plans.


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