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. HIDDEN LIGHT Book Birthday & 50% SALE
My debut novel, THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY, was published 8 years ago this month. A political thriller set against the backdrop of Mexico’s presidential elections, with a complicating Cinderella-style love story and corruption at the highest levels of government, the novel incorporated some of my own experiences in Mexico.
Longlisted for the 2020 Millennium Book Award, it is even more relevant today than it was in 2013.
THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY launched my writing career, despite the publishing insiders who rejected the novel for having too many Mexican characters. I still think it is the best thing I’ve ever written.
To celebrate the milestone, the Kindle version of THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY is 50% off all month on Amazon.
- “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
- “An intensely exciting political thriller that fires on all cylinders, The Hidden Light Of Mexico City is one of those rare novels that promises much and over-delivers.” – BookViral
Acapulco Black Book is an unpublished Detective Emilia Cruz short story.
Frowning with curiosity, Emilia followed the coroner to the stitched-up body on the table. There was nothing remarkable about the dead man. His waxy face was composed, his eyes closed. He wasn’t tall or well-built or good looking. An ordinary fisherman, student, taxi driver.
Or cartel killer.
“How old was he?” Emilia asked. For a moment she wondered if anyone missed him, was worried that he hadn’t come home.
“According to his previous arrest record, he was 26 years old,” Prade said briskly. The coroner turned both of the dead man’s hands to show the palms and spread the fingers apart. “Nine fingers identify him as the late Julio Lira Valdez, reportedly dead in a car fire two months ago.”
“Nine fingers?” Emilia repeated. She could plainly see ten.
Prade reached up and adjusted the light fixture above the table, concentrating the gleam on the man’s right hand. “The print from his right index finger belongs to a man named Tito Sandino Hernandez. There’s no record of his death anywhere.”
Emilia didn’t need further prompting to see what Prade meant. Tidy stitches ringed the pad of the right index fingertip.
“Someone else’s print was sewn onto his finger,” she said. “Madre de Dios.”
“Whoever sewed it on was a gifted surgeon,” Prade said. “No infection and minimal scarring.”
“When was this done?”
“Perhaps six or seven weeks ago. From the healing, I’d estimate no more than that.”
“Madre de Dios,” Emilia swore again. “Around the same time as the car fire?”
“What do you think?” It was a rhetorical question.
Prade didn’t answer.
The body on the table, wearing someone else’s fingertip, supposedly died in a car fire two months ago. Presumably with all of his original body parts.
If the grafted fingertip had lifted and beckoned, Emilia would not have been surprised. A secret was hidden behind that carefully attached piece of skin. But as the concrete block walls of the sterile examination room closed in and her lungs screamed for fresh air, she didn’t care.
Emilia hated the morgue, but never so much as today.
“Quite a surprise, I tell you.” Prade gently set the dead man’s hand back on the table.
“You’re sure about the fingertip belonging to Tito Sandino Hernandez?” Emilia asked.
Prade came to the worktable and found a clipboard. “That’s what the database told us.”
Emilia pulled off mask and gloves made some notes, thanked Prade, and reeled out of the building. Leaning against the side of the Suburban, she called the hospital. The patient Tito Sandino Hernandez was still in critical condition. Yes, he had all ten fingertips. None were scarred or surgically altered.
Emilia cut the connection, her thoughts whirling. The man in the hospital had been identified as Tito Sandino Hernandez from the contents of his wallet. Identity card. Store credit card. The vehicle registration documents found in the truck.
But who was he?
ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE by Louise Penny
A Gamache mystery that doesn’t take place in Three Pines? What is the world coming to??
Armand Gamache is once again head of Homicide for the Sureté de Quebec. He is on vacation in Paris to visit his grown children and await the birth of his newest grandchild. His billionaire godfather Stephen is there, too, making for a happy family reunion. That is, until Stephen is critically injured by a hit-and-run driver.
Witness to the accident, Gamache and his wife know this was no random accident but attempted murder.
Aided by his son-in-law Jean-Guy Beauvoir, until recently Gamache’s second-in-command and now working for a Paris-based multinational engineering firm, Gamache is determined to find out who wanted to kill his godfather. Together, they will uncover a string of mysteries, including a dead body in Stephen’s lux pied-a-terre and questionable links to the French Resistance during World War II, plus funny business at the engineering firm.
The action ranges across Paris, giving us an armchair tour through rainy arrondisements. We are swept across the city, from the legendary Georges V hotel to the wounded Notre Dame cathedral to the Luxembourg Gardens and dozens of points in between. Secrets and the unexplained nip at our heels.
The style is often staccato, with short, sharp sentences to heighten emotional impact.
She grabbed him to her again, and they held on to each other.
Weeping for Stephen.
A little of that goes a long way for me and I wish it was used more sparingly, but this technique keeps the drama high.
The plot of ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, the 16th Gamache mystery, is solid. The climax was wholly believable and connected all the dots, especially when it comes to character development.
I loved the way the ending became a happy turning point for the Gamache narrative. My guess is that subsequent books will enjoy the original atmosphere and framework which underpin the success of the series.
Highly recommended. Get ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE on Amazon.
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List of Carmen’s books