Dead Spider by Victoria Adams. Published by Adams

Police chief Llewellyn Ferris should be enjoying herself; the annual Loon Lake fishing tournament is winding down, folks are in a good mood and celebrations are kept (for the most part) orderly and safe. But the sound of firecrackers covers the sound of gunshots and the trophy wife of the richest man in town finds him shot dead. Llewellyn needs help from her close friend and coroner “Doc” Osborne to find the killer, even as the man finds himself torn to pieces about the fact his granddaughter has gotten mixed up with some seriously nasty drug dealers. This is a cozy series with a definite edge and fans will welcome another chance to visit Loon Lake


The Woman Who Knew Too Much by Tom Savage. Published by Alibi

A Russian actress who’s married to Russian general and privy to a lot of secrets wants to trade that intel to the United States in return for asylum. Galina Rostova is performing in Venice, Italy and does not want to return to Russia. The CIA wants the intel she’s promised, so they send Nora Baron to Italy in order to make the trade. But Nora is not an agent, she’s married to one, but her day job is as a teacher and a mother. The CIa has used Nora in the past and likes her ability to slip into any role (she teaches drama). Of course things go wrong during the exchange and the two women find themselves on the run across Venice, pursued by Russian thugs determined to make sure neither woman is able to spill any secrets ever again. The plot sounds highly improbable, but Savage makes it work, and with all the furor about Russia these days, it’s a timely and fun read

Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullett. Published by Alibi

Abi Logan is a photojournalist who knows almost nothing about whiskey, but when her grandfather leaves her his single malt distillery in Scotland, she has to learn fast. While the countryside is beautiful, Abi is not made to feel welcome by the locals. Still, could someone dislike her enough to want her permanently out of the way?  Abi begins to get threats and  turns to her whiskey connoisseur friend Patrick for support. Things continue to escalate when Abi finds one of her new hires face down in a vat of whiskey. Who knew that distilling spirits was so deadly? You don’t have to like whiskey to enjoy this tale of murder and mayhem in the Scottish Highlands

The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes. Published by Penguin

The lives of a 14-year-old girl and an attorney suffering a mid-life crisis come together in Moyes’s latest story. 14 year old Sarah has always wanted to be a championship rider like her grandfather, and when he gives her a horse of her own, she can imagine herself escaping her grimy London neighborhood for the French countryside to train where her grandfather did. But when her grandfather is hospitalized, Sarah has little time for her riding, as she tries to visit her grandfather in the hospital,  take care of her horse and herself. She crosses paths with  Natasha when the older woman catches Sarah shoplifting. Natasha, an attorney whose own personal and professional life is in tatters takes the young teen under her wing. Moyes knows how to get into reader’s hearts, and she doesn’t disappoint with this story about love and family (and horses!)

Falling Darkness by Karen Harper. Published by Mira

Forensic psychologist Claire Britten, her ex-husband, daughter, and lover have been in a horrific plane crash, and together with a handful of survivors, they are adrift in the ocean in two tiny life rafts. Claire is filled with worry that they might never be rescued and guilt, because the reason they were all aboard the same flight was because they were fleeing from the underworld criminal in pursuit of her lover Nick Markwood, and anyone he loves. Even when they are safely back on land, the plan for them to assume their new identities under Witness Protection goes awry and Nick and Claire are left with no one to trust but themselves. Karen Harper puts as much effort into developing her characters as she does building the suspense.

Shadows on the Lake by Giovanni Cocco. Published by Penguin

In the course of building a road from the mountains above Lake Como to the border of Switzerland, human remains are uncovered on property belonging to the wealthy and powerful Cappetti. Inspector Stefania Valenti is called in to cover the case, one that will require plenty of very careful questioning, her bosses don’t want her making any enemies of the powerful family. In order to determined who the remains belong to, Stefania must travel back to World War II, a time when the landscape was filled with desperate people seeking to flee Italy, and when others used the cover of war to turn a profit smuggling goods, and people over the border. This is the first in a new series and I’m already looking forward to the next installment. Stefania is no young ingenue, she’s a seasoned 45-year-old cop with enough baggage of her own to make her a fascinating protagonist

Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg. Published by Penguin

Foxlowe is the name of the commune (cult?) where Green lives. Green is the only child born into the commune, and therefore the only one who doesn’t have two names – a name from before and a Foxlowe name. The young members are called the Ungrown, adults are the Grown, and three of them are known as the Founders. Like most cults, access to history and knowledge are denied, and Green grows up with an absolute faith in everything she’s been taught. But others are Foxlowe remember their life before, and sometimes recount their old lives and the ways things were in the outside world. This book is scary in the sense that all mind control and access to knowledge is scary, the tension is heightened by the creepy old house the group lives in, but I had a hard time feeling any intimacy with the characters. The story is good technically, but I felt it lacked heart