Three standout cozies featuring smart and sassy heroines.
★ Dead in Dublin
Catie Murphy kicks off the Dublin Driver Mystery series with Dead in Dublin. Ex-military combat medic Megan Malone has started life over as a limo driver in Ireland—a pleasant enough gig until her client, a famous food blogger, keels over while she’s on the job. The restaurant where the blogger last ate is doomed if their food was the cause, and Megan is quickly enlisted to find out the truth. Murphy’s Dublin feels immersive and authentic, and even minor characters add depth and detail. Orla Keegan, Megan’s boss at the limo company and also her landlord, is a prickly delight, harsh and demanding but fair when the situation demands it. This is an auspicious series debut, and hopefully the luck of the Irish will hold for many more stories to come.
In the Shadow of Vesuvius
The ruins of Pompeii include plaster casts of people who died when Mount Vesuvius erupted, an arresting reminder that death can come at any time. When Emily Hargreaves visits the site, she finds a contemporary corpse encased in plaster, and the hunt for a killer begins. In the Shadow of Vesuvius, the 14th Lady Emily mystery, leaps between Emily in 1902 and a newly freed Roman slave during the year of Vesuvius’ eruption. Tasha Alexander brings both eras to life through meticulous research, and the dual stories come together in a chilling finale. Scenes set among the ruins of Pompeii and in the city pre-disaster have such depth that it feels like we’re walking directly into them. This is an urbane thriller with a big heart.
And Dangerous to Know
If London’s Regency era ran on anything (apart from tea, of course), it was manners. And Dangerous to Know finds Rosalind Thorne acting as a double agent of sorts, while curtsying at all the right moments. Working as Lady Melbourne’s personal secretary is just a cover for her real purpose: finding out who stole a cache of letters tied to the poet Lord Byron and digging for dirt about a body found on the lady’s grounds. Author Darcie Wilde gives Rosalind a keen mind and boundless curiosity, then tethers her to the polite maneuvers that society demands. It’s excruciating and hilarious to watch Rosalind feign interest in someone’s garden while having a surreptitious conversation about evidence. Rosalind carries the soul of Sherlock Holmes in the world of Elizabeth Bennet, and it’s a hard combination to beat.