The darkening days of fall afford the right tone for curling up with a good mystery or thriller. Here are some titles worth reading.
"Human Remains" (Harper, $15.99) by Elizabeth Haynes relies on the author's skill as a police analyst for its dose of realism. Annabel, her literary doppleganger, goes next door and discovers the decomposing body of the elderly woman who lived there. Annabel believes old age killed the woman. Then many other decomposed bodies of people of all ages start turning up. Annabel suspects a man named Colin of foul play and sets out to ground her suspicions.
"Seven for a Secret" (Penguin, $26.95) by Lyndsay Faye continues her series about the New York Police Department in 1846. Officer Timothy Wilde returns, this time fighting slave catchers in search of people to send South. When Lucy Adams appears at the station and tells Wilde her mixed-race sister and son have been taken, Wilde and his brother Valentine must enter a corrupt underground world where profiteers take free Blacks from their homes in the North and send them off to be slaves in the South.
"A Criminal Defense" (HarperCollins, $9.99) by Stephen Gore resumes the tale of ex-detective Harlan Donnally. He now runs a small cafe near San Francisco. When corrupt criminal lawyer Mark Hamlin is found murdered under the Golden Gate Bridge, Donnally must return to the job. Hamlin's many enemies complicate the issue, since even the police are not interested in solving this crime.
"Visitation Street" (Ecco, $25.99) by Ivy Pochoda is set in the Red Hook, Brooklyn waterfront district. Here where the East River meets the bay, two 15-year-olds take a raft out for one last summer fling. Later Val is found semi-conscious in the shoreline weeds but June is lost. The book follows the reactions of the residents to this tragedy and mystery. The story plays out against the background of a rough neighborhood undergoing gentrification and the clash of old residents and new immigrants.
"A Question of Honor" (William Morrow, $25.99) by Charles Todd is a historical mystery set at the close of World War I. English nurse Bess Crawford investigates the case of Lt. Thomas Wade. Ten years earlier Wade, a soldier serving under her father, was accused of murdering both his parents but vanished near the Khyber Pass. A soldier she treated on his deathbed led Crawford to believe Wade is still alive. Not only does she try to solve the other murders, but she discovers Wade may also have committed three murders before serving under her father in India.
"Kill City Blues" (Harper Voyager, $24.99) by Richard Kadrey is another tale of Sandman Slim, a man who once served as the devil's contract killer and then as the devil himself. He must find the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon used to kill gods, before the dark forces do.
"Storm Front" (Putnam) by bestselling author John Sandford is the seventh novel in the Virgil Flowers series. Flowers, living in Minnesota, receives a message from Lucas Davenport. He will soon be visited by an Israeli cop searching for man who stole a copper scroll from an archaeological dig. The scroll fills in details of King Solomon's life. The thief is being pursued by evil men who want the scroll at any cost.
"The Dead Run" (Harper Voyager, $13.99) by Adam Mansbach is set on the border of Mexico and the U.S. Police Chief Bob Nichols and psychologist Ruth Cantwell are in search of Sherry Richards, a girl who has escaped a cult but is now wandering in the desert. As they seek her they become drawn into an evil circle where many young girls are wandering near death in the desert.
"Hercule Poirot: The Complette Short Stories" (William Morrow, $19.99) by Agatha Christie with a foreword by Charles Todd contains the collected stories of the world's second most published author. (Shakespeare is first.) People worldwide know her detective, a Belgian with a mustache and the ability to solve any crime. For the first time all the stories are placed in one volume, wonderful reading for long evenings.
Those who want to know more about Agatha Christie will enjoy "Agatha Christie: The Grand Tour" (William Morrow, $19.99) edited by Mathew Prichard. Christie and her husband Archibald traveled for 10 months in 1922, a voyage which included stops in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Canada. At each stop she took photos and wrote travelogue letters to her mother. This is the first collection of those photos and letters, and the book also includes postcards, newspaper clippings and other epherema offering a glimpse into the world she later captured in the world's best-known mysteries.