First Clue

By Brian Kenney & Henrietta Verma

The mission of First Clue is simple: to provide succinct reviews of crime fiction we love—or at least like a lot—far in advance of publication. Our intent is for First Clue to help librarians and booksellers in selecting titles and making recommendations, and readers in finding that next great read. Who are we? Two New York City-based librarians and former editors at leading review magazines—Library Journal and School Library Journal. We hope you'll subscribe—it’s free!—and after that, watch your email box every Thursday for our recommendations.

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First Clue - Interview with Robert J. Lloyd

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First Clue - Interview with Colleen Cambridge

Blaedel, Sara. A Harmless Lie. March 22, 2022. 304p. Dutton.With its nine volumes, the acclaimed Detective Louise Rick series can be off-putting. But the newest title, A Harmless Lie, is actually a good entrance point. Sure, you’re missing plenty of backstory…


First Clue - What Makes a Book Unreadable?

Hepworth, Sally. The Younger Wife. April 2022. 352p. St. Martin’s.Quirky meets romantic meets WTF in this Australian import that’s brimming with character. Two very different sisters are at the center of the maelstrom. Rachel is a beautiful and successful bak…


First Clue - Interview with Edwin Hill

Downes, Anna. The Shadow House. April 2022. 304p. Minotaur. If you arrived at your new house and found a package at the entrance, containing not some welcome brownies from a neighbor but a grotesquely mutilated bird, what would you do? If you’re anything like…


First Clue - New and Improved!

⭐Belle, Kimberly. My Darling Husband. December 2021. 352p. Park Row.Get ready to care far more than you thought you could about fictional strangers. The three in question are Jade, the busy, pampered wife of Atlanta celebrity chef Cam Lasky; and her children,…


First Clue - A Harlem Renaissance Treasure and More

⭐Dempsey, Sharon. Who Took Eden Mulligan? April 2022. 368p. Avon.Perhaps inspired by the real-life disappearance of Northern Ireland mother Jean McConville, Dempsey invites us inside two crimes. The first is a murderous attack on five roommates, and then ther…


First Clue - Camilla Sten and a Mystery for Manifest Fans

Kent, Minka. Unmissing. February 2022. Thomas & Mercer. Ten years ago, Lydia was kidnapped, then spent the subsequent decade locked in a hunting cabin, subjected to torture and abuse. Miraculously, she managed to escape—feigning death—and after several mo…


First Clue - Alafair Burke's Ellie Hatcher is Back!

Bourelle, Andrew. 48 Hours to Kill. December. 352p. Crooked Lane Books.A gripping thriller that is begging to be made into a motion picture. Ethan Lockhart, serving time in a Nevada jail for armed robbery, is released on a 48 hour furlough to attend the funer…


First Clue - Brad Meltzer and More

Garrett, Kellye. Like a Sister. March 2022. 336p. Mulholland Books.From the outside, Desiree Pierce had it all. Famous hip-hop producer father, starring role on a rich-kid reality show, a huge audience following her every diamond-studded move on Instagram. Bu…


First Clue - Jo Nesbø, Move Over!

Buccola, Allison. Catch Her When She Falls. February 2022. 368p. Random.After college and a stint in Chicago, Micah Wilkes returns to her hometown of Calvary, PA. She ends up settling down with Ryan, a former high-school classmate, and opens Stomping Grounds,…


First Clue - Superstar Sleuths

⭐Allen, Samantha Jayne. Pay Dirt Road. April 2022. 304p. Minotaur.In this striking, character-driven debut, Annie McIntyre is back in her stifling—temperature-wise and socially—Texas hometown, Garnett, where football is a religion and prom queen a lifetime ap…


First Clue -It's a Small World After All

Bahr, Dane. The Houseboat. February, 2022. 256p. Counterpoint.A lyrical, moody crime novel—there’s no mystery and just a smidgen of suspense—set in small-town Oscar, Iowa in 1960, a town “as plain as a white wall.” When a young couple, spending the night on t…


First Clue - Irish Crime Fiction, Plus Thrillers

Alderson, Sarah. The Stalker. October. 368p. Avon.Initially, this novel seems weighed down by clichés: the weak, timid wife; the macho, type-A husband; the island rumored to be haunted. But keep going and you will be rewarded with a top-rate thriller which is…


First Clue - A Macabre Forest, a Modern Family, and More

Díaz, Eloísa. Repentance. October. Agora Books. It’s 1981 and Inspector Joaquín Alzada has one goal: to keep his head down and avoid trouble. Not so easy when you are a cop in Buenos Aires during a period of extreme political turmoil, with Las Madres de la Pl…


First Clue - Lisa Lutz's The Accomplice

Galloway, Gregory. Just Thieves. October 2021. 256p. Melville House.Frank’s day job is as a thief, but he believes himself a philosopher at heart, and uses his constant learning and contemplation to justify his ways. Ownership isn’t real anyway, he tells his …


First Clue - Mysteries on Ice

Ferencik, Erica. Girl in Ice. March, 2022. 304p. Scout Press. Val Chesterfield, a scholar of ancient Nordic languages, lives a sheltered life. Suffering from depression and anxiety, she relies on medicine, and the occasional drink, to get through the day. The…


First Clue - Hank Phillippi Ryan's Her Perfect Life

Gigl, Robyn. Survivor's Guilt (An Erin McCabe Legal Thriller, Book 2). January 2022. 352p. Kensington.This thriller is full to the brim with hit men, murder, sexual abuse, child pornography, computer hacking, and good-old illicit financial transactions—and th…


First Clue - Banville and Higashino are Back

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 reti…


First Clue - Of Moms and Marriage Counselors

Faulkner, Katherine. Greenwich Park. January 2022. 384 pages. Gallery Books. Former Cambridge students Helen and Daniel are a few months from the birth of their first child, after numerous pregnancy losses. Helen is understandably nervous, and it doesn’t help…


First Clue - Next from the Author of "The Girl on the Train"

Cleland, Jane K. Jane Austen’s Lost Letters (Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries, Book 14). December 2021. 302p. Minotaur Books. Here’s a conundrum. Series readers love returning to the familiar: the nosy next-door neighbor, the long-term fiancé, the super inte…