The Good Thief's Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan- This is the second book in this series of comedic mysteries (the first being The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam) that follow the adventures of author Charlie Howard. Charlie pens novels about a burglar named Faulks, but he also does a little thieving on the side to supplement his income. Royalty cheques only go so far, after all! I guess Charlie could be compared to the character played by Cary Grant in 'To Catch a Thief' - that is, if Charlie was good-looking, rich and suave (which he isn't). He is however a sucker for both a damsel in distress and a challenge, both of land Charlie into dangerous situations in these two books. The character voice is irreverent and fresh, the dialogue is witty and funny, and the descriptions of the cities of Amsterdam and Paris make me wish I had more vacation time booked (and a larger travel budget)!
The Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson. This is an excellent debut for those who love historical mysteries. Set in London in 1383, this book differs from the typical mystery set in this time period in that (gasp) the hero/heroine is not a monk or a nun! This is touted as a 'medieval noir', and features a disgraced former knight as the sleuth. Crispin Guest has had to rough it on the streets of London after losing both his rank and property when he was convicted for treason for plotting against Richard II. However he still has his wits and a few friends in high places and is managing to make a meager living as an investigator. He is looking into a potential case of marital infidelity when he finds his client murdered- inside a sealed room that was locked from the inside. How did the killer get out of the locked room, and what was the motivation for the killing? Featuring a great complex mystery, a missing religious relic, international plots, hidden identities, fabulous historical detail and a compelling, conflicted main character, I think this has the potential to be a long lived series!
High Season by Jon Loomis - This debut novel came out almost a year ago (September 2007) in hardcover. I didn't get an advance reader's copy at the time, so I ordered a sample after the book received a starred Booklist review. It unfortunately got buried on my bookcase and when I did finally pick it up, I devoured it in one sitting. High Season is set in Provincetown, Massachucetts- a funky seaside resort town that is a hotspot for gay and lesbian vacationers. Frank Coffin is the sheriff in Provincetown, having recently moved back to his hometown after a stint with the Baltimore homicide squad that ended with a multiple murder case that left him on disability, suffering from panic attacks. He hasn't had to deal with a murder since returning home, but that all changes when a vacationing TV evangelist, who is known for his homophobic sermons, is found murdered on a local beach dressed in drag. The case falls to the state police, but with their dismal track record at closing cases, Frank's new boss tells him to launch his own investigation on the quiet. Frank's boss wants the case resolved quickly as to not upset the local tourist trade. However, as the investigation proceeds, the case turns out not to be as simple as Frank is led to believe. He uncovers evidence of government corruption, shady property developers, smuggling, drugs and more. At the same time, his girlfriend is pressuring him to have a child, his car keeps breaking down, and he has to deal with the local 'characters', one of whom, in a hilarious scene, assaults a shady politician with a fish after he tries to evict him from his house. If you missed this in hardcover like I did, be sure to pick up the paperback edition, which just released in July. It is both funny and dark, the characters are very well developed, and you really feel as though you know the town when you finish the book. I hope there is another Frank Coffin book on the way soon!