Welcome to the website edition of the Mystery Ahead newsletter, with fresh #booknews, thrilling #excerpts, and #reviews of must-read mysteries.
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1. You asked for it
Q: Where can I find back issues of Mystery Ahead?
A: I get this question quite a bit. Until now, there’s been no good answer except to hope you save emails.
Problem solved! You can now find “lite” editions of the newsletter on my website: https://carmenamato.net/shop-talk. Click on #newsletter at the top of the page.
All 2021 back editions of Mystery Ahead are available.
NOTE: The “lite” versions include excerpts and reviews but other original images, content or links may be missing or expired.
Going forward, lite website versions of Mystery Ahead will be posted the week after the regular email edition hits your inbox.
2. Thriller Sale
To celebrate its anniversary, THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY is on sale for $2.99 for Kindle. Longlisted for the 2020 Millennium Book Award, it’s a political thriller set against the backdrop of Mexico’s presidential elections, with a complicating Cinderella-style relationship.
“A rivetingly dramatic tale of politics and corruption, and a man and a woman from opposite ends of the social spectrum who fall in love.” – Literary Fiction Review
Acapulco Black Book is an unpublished Detective Emilia Cruz short story.
Julio Lira Valdez had his very own file in a road accident database for the state of Guerrero.
According to the file, Julio died in a car fire two months ago. The database featured a blurry digital image of a charred wreck and the GPS coordinates of where the car was found in a remote area north of the Maxitunel.
Burnt to a crisp, his body was identified in the morgue by Raquel Lopez Amador, age 22, also with an address in Colonia Paraiso. She claimed to be his girlfriend.
Raquel contacted Highway Patrol when Julio didn’t come home, giving details about the car and his intended destination that led to the discovery of the burned vehicle. According to the girlfriend, he’d been having lots of engine trouble, which obviously explained the fire.
But not why he’d stay in a burning car, Emilia thought as she kept scrolling.
With a positive identification of the body and the car’s ownership established, Julio’s death was ruled a road accident. No further action was required. The fact that there were no plates on the car was attributed to theft instead of gangs known to alter and reuse them. Even scorched placas were valuable on the black market.
That was the end of Julio Lira Valdez, as far as the official record was concerned.
Emilia stretched her arms over her head and rolled her head, hearing a crunchy sound from her neck in the process. The squadroom was empty. Everyone else had left for the day.
Her notes weren’t much, just a couple of addresses and the girlfriend’s name. She’d busted cases with less.
But this wasn’t going to be that kind of case.
Over the next two hours, bolstered by a fresh pot of coffee, Emilia wrote down the name of every cop mentioned in any report connected to Tito Sandino Hernandez or Julio Lira Valdez or the B-90 gang.
The list was almost as long as the list of names in the black notebook.
THE SEPTEMBER SOCIETY by Charles Finch
THE SEPTEMBER SOCIETY is one of the early novels in the Charles Lenox series, which is my new obsession. Imagine Victorian London through the eyes of an upper-class private detective, with great descriptions, 3-D characters and details out of a Dickens novel. As an added delight, there are sly references to iconic British authors like P.G. Wodehouse.
In short, the Charles Lenox series is absorbing, authentic, and quite sophisticated.
Lenox is a bachelor in love with his London neighbor, Lady Jane, a wealthy widow whom he’s known since childhood. Asking for her hand in marriage requires courage, although Lenox is accustomed to not only solving gruesome crimes but the rigors of London society and the opinions of those who believe that an Oxford-educated man should do something more impressive with his talents. Be in Parliament, perhaps, like his older brother and many friends.
Independently wealthy, Lenox persists in his role as amateur detective. In THE SEPTEMBER SOCIETY, a woman needs his help to find her son, missing from college at Oxford. Pleased to revisit old haunts, Lenox finds a connection to a London club called the September Society.
Only a handful of men belong to the club, which is exclusive to the point of anonymity. All members have links to the Army and to an obscure battle that provides a lesson into British colonial history.
The descriptions of both London and Oxford are brilliant. The architecture, traditions, and landscape of Oxford is particularly well done as we explore the alleys and greens. Weathered stone and damp grass are underfoot, while wavy windows and spires rise above. Student life ranges between tutors, taverns, and games.
The plot races along as Lenox chases clues. The climax is a very satisfying surprise.
At this point, I’ve read 7 out of 14 Charles Lenox mysteries, which are best read in order. Lenox’s evolving life—marriage, children, a stint in Parliament, his own detective agency—features prominently. The books are fairly long and immersive, reminding me in style and tone of Anne Perry’s early William Monk historical mysteries.
I’m off to find the next in the series! Get THE SEPTEMBER SOCIETY on Amazon.