firstCLUE

By Henrietta Verma & Brian Kenney

First Clue - Banville and Higashino are Back

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Dying to travel internationally but not quite ready to board a plane? We’ve got you covered!
Join John Banville’s retired medical examiner, Quirke, as his vacation in Spain takes a decidedly odd turn. Or immerse yourself in Tokyo, thanks to Keigo Higashino’s Silent Parade, which includes the reintroduction of Detective Galileo (yay!).
Want to stay closer to home? Head off to the imaginary island of Paraiso for a thirst quenching pina colada and a little light murder in Carrie Doyle’s Something’s Guava Give. Plus we’ve got three more novels for those who want to stay stateside.

Doctor Who?
Banville, John. April in Spain. October 2021. 304p. Hanover Square Press.
John Banville invites us into the inner lives of Irish people and, through their loves and struggles, creates a composite view of modern Ireland. This eighth in the series named for retired medical examiner Quirke sees him reluctantly vacationing in Spain with his wife, Evelyn, a psychiatrist whose quiet love for Quirke is a highlight of the book. When an injured Quirke visits an ER, the Irish doctor who treats him is strangely familiar and later, at a thank-you meal she obviously loathes attending, behaves bizarrely. Back in Ireland, Quirke’s daughter, Phoebe, will frustrate readers through her relationship with superior-acting, controlling Paul. When Phoebe joins Quirke to tackle the mystery surrounding the Irish doctor, she sidesteps Paul and his aloofness only to face something much more sinister (warning: sexual abuse is involved though not graphically described). Love and fear are wonderfully juxtaposed here, and those who enjoy reading the former should try Irish author Donal Ryan’s The Spinning Heart. Fans of the more dangerous elements should be steered toward the Sean Duffy novels by Northern Ireland’s Adrian McKinty.—Henrietta Verma
Legal Loathing
Batista, Paul. The Warriors (A Raquel Rematti Legal Thriller #2). January 2022. 336p. Oceanview Publishing. 
Defense lawyer Raquel Rematti, whose arguments are used as law school how-tos, has met the first client she truly hates, Angela Baldesteri, a former First Lady and current senator. Angela might be lying on the stand in her trial on fraud and tax evasion charges and seems determined to alienate the judge. Raquel is torn. She could lose her license if she fails to rein in Angela’s behavior, but it’s hard to find a more high-profile client. Meanwhile, outside forces frighten her into staying: she’s followed in the street by men who claim to be FBI but aren’t; a former drug-dealing client targets a member of the jury and even the lawyer’s loved ones; and the body count starts to climb. Batista (Manhattan Lockdown) skillfully intertwines psychological and legal drama here, with the protagonist struggling to best an adversarial client while fighting against those who will do anything to keep the senator in the upcoming presidential race. The cutthroat politics and shadowy money behind super PACs also feature heavily. Trial lawyer Batista’s fast-paced read is a must for fans of John Grisham and Scott Turow.—Henrietta Verma
Like a Pina Colada on Summer’s Day
Doyle, Carrie. Something’s Guava Give (Trouble in Paradise! Book 2). January 2022. 288p. Poisoned Pen Press.
Right on the heels of the first book in the series, It Takes Two to Mango, ex-New Yorker Plum Lockhart is trying to make a go of life on the Caribbean island of Paraiso. Having set up her own agency to rent vacation homes, she’s struggling to succeed, when she gets a call from Gerald, a former publishing buddy in New York. He wants her to look after an heiress, Arielle, his boss’s daughter, who’s vacationing on the island and gotten into a scrape with the law. Plum doesn’t have a choice, as she owes Gerald for a major profile he published about her new company. But just 24 hours after she saves Arielle—who’s accused of stealing from other guests—the poor little rich girl is found murdered. There’s a lot for readers to appreciate here, from a wonderful cast including a Keith Richards-like rock star, a reclusive billionaire, and a couple of B-list celebrities to Plum’s in-your-face, confrontative, New York City style. Add a budding romance with the dishy Juan Kevin Munoz, head of security at the nearby resort, and you have a series that cozy readers will want to return to again and again.—Brian Kenney
Meet Tokyo's Sherlock
Higashino, Keigo. Silent Parade (Detective Galileo Series, Book 4). December 2021. 352p. Minotaur. 
This big, complex, sprawling, novel—complete with a large cast and plenty of backstory—is perfect for when you need to lose yourself for a few days. At the center of the book is the murder of Saori Namiki, a talented young woman who is about to launch her musical career. Jump three years to the present, when her remains are discovered in the rubble of a burnt-out shanty. Finding her murderer would seem impossible, but a similar death over 20 years ago helps Chief Inspector Kusanagi identify the killer, only to see him released for lack of solid evidence. But if the legal system won’t punish the murderer, Saori’s friends, family, and fiancé are more than willing to step up, and an immensely complex scheme is created to do away with the man. As the story unfolds, we are privy to the same information Kusanagi has, keeping the reader in an ongoing state of anxiety. But the real fun in this book is the return of Detective Galileo, last seen in the first book in the series, The Devotion of Suspect X. Physics professor by day, police consultant by night, Galileo enters near the book’s conclusion to upend everything we have come to believe, creating a new narrative that is oh so very satisfying.—Brian Kenney 
Trading Places
Jeng, Sarah Zachrich. The Other Me. August 2021. 352p. Berkley.
When struggling artist Kelly enters an art gallery bathroom on her birthday, she turns into a different version of herself. In this life she’s no longer single, but is married to Eric, who is waiting outside for her. Her tattoos have vanished, and she never went to art school. Bewildered as to which existence is real, she plays along. Memories from this life’s past suddenly appear, along with a returning, comfortable attraction toward Eric, who, in the other life, she turned down when he asked her out in high school. Over time, odd moments tell Kelly that the new life might be no more stable than the old—her tattoos flash back onto her skin at times, for example—and she discovers that some in her new life might know what’s going on. A stellar choice for book groups and classes on ethics, this debut brings up a wealth of questions about possibilities other than the linear progression of life that we take for granted, and about the wisdom of trying to start over. Kelly and Eric’s insta-relationship is a mind-bender of its own, the does-he-know and does-he-know-that-I-knows perhaps reminding readers of the mysteries in any partnership. Sure to be a hot title this fall.—Henrietta Verma
A Gilded Age Nancy Drew
Parker, Ann. The Secret in the Wall (A Silver Rush Mystery Book 8). February 2022. 400p. Sourcebooks.
Many of us grew up on a strict diet of Nancy Drew. For nostalgia in the same vein but grittier, try 12-year-old sleuth Antonia Grizzi, who’s been raised on Gilded Age San Francisco’s streets, and it shows. She’s now the “ward” of Inez Stannart, a single woman who wants to remain so. The two are perfectly matched as companions, but Antonia can’t bring herself to trust Inez, or anyone, completely. When demolition in a building Inez has bought reveals a dead man and a cache of gold coins, she and Antonia each determine to solve the mystery of who he is and what happened—solo. By playing in the house, the little girl gets deep into its secrets, while her guardian looks further afield, including in the investigation a handsome local who just might make her abandon the going-it-alone plan. Exciting switches in perspective quickly advance the plot while accessible but atmospheric dialog and cultural touchpoints impart a vivid sense of the time. Readers will want more from Parker; also try Erin Lindsey’s Rose Gallagher Mystery series.—Henrietta Verma
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Henrietta Verma & Brian Kenney
Henrietta Verma & Brian Kenney @1stClueReviews

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