New Mystery fiction : cold cases, profilers, NYPD detectives and medical examiners

In our picks of the new mysteries this month we’ve included lots of Scandinavian mystery fiction (so much more just keeps being translated – it’s wonderful!), plus the new Kay Scarpetta novel from Patricia Cornwell. Also included are Richard Castle‘s new novel (yes, we know – he’s a fictional character, but these are great!), and Deon Meyer‘s Seven Days — translated into English from the Afrikaans, and a great opportunity to read a complex crime novel AND peek into South African society all at the same time. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverSeven days / Deon Meyer ; translated from Afrikaans by K. L. Seegers.
“Meyer borrows the ticking-clock framework and many of the characters from his novel Thirteen Hours (2010). A sniper has been shooting at Cape Town policemen and then sending threatening e-mails, vowing to shoot one officer a day unless they solve a cold case the murder of financial analyst Hanneke Sloet, who was fatally stabbed with a very large knife. Inspector Benny Griessel, newly transferred to the elite Hawks unit, is chosen to lead the investigation, and he is well aware of the pressure that will be raining down on him not only from the media but also from the highest levels of command. He has gone 227 days without a drink, but his old demons are calling to him, especially when he discovers that the Sloet case seems absolutely impenetrable, with no motive and no forensic evidence. As policemen continue to fall, Benny works to connect the threads, combing through financial records and trying to plumb the psyche of the ruthlessly ambitious victim, looking for something, anything, that makes sense. Sleekly done crime fiction layered with the cultural complexities of the new South Africa…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSebastian Bergman / [Michael] Hjorth & [Hans] Rosenfeldt ; translation by Marlaine Delargy.
“The electrifying thriller from the writers of BBC4 Swedish TV drama SEBASTIAN BERGMAN and the creator of the hugely successful series THE BRIDGE. The massive Swedish international bestseller and the first in the Sebastian Bergman series. Now a hit BBC4 TV drama starring Rolf Lassgård, the original WALLANDER, as Bergman. Sixteen-year-old Roger has vanished. Days pass and Västerås Police do nothing, blaming his disappearance on teenage antics. Then Roger’s pale, mutilated body is found floating in a shallow marshland pool, his heart missing, and the experts descend. They need Sebastian Bergman: widower, psychologist, top criminal profiler and one of Sweden’s foremost experts on serial killers. Since losing his wife and child Sebastian has become numb to the outside world and has no interest in taking on the murder case – until he is blindsided by a secret from his past. Desperate for access to confidential police files, he agrees to join the investigation and it’s not long until the brittle web of lies and deception seizes his full attention…” (Description from

Syndetics book coverDick Francis’s bloodline / Felix Francis.
“Francis ably follows in the footsteps of his father, Dick Francis, with his second stand-alone set in the English horse racing world (after 2011’s Dick Francis’s Gamble). Mark Shillingford, a TV commentator who covers horse races, is ridden with guilt over an argument he had with his jockey twin sister, Clare, after discovering that she was losing some races deliberately. In the aftermath of the confrontation, an angry Mark lets Clare’s phone messages go to voicemail, a choice he regrets after Clare apparently leaps to her death from a London hotel window. Mark resolves to discover what really happened in the hotel room before the fatal plunge. Suspecting that his sister’s cheating was more extensive than she admitted, he studies old video images of her recent races to spot a pattern that may identify those who wanted her dead to cover up the fraud. Fans will have a hard time distinguishing this solid thriller from the father’s work…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe absent one / Jussi Adler-Olsen ; translated by K.E. Semmel.
“Grumpy Copenhagen police detective Carl Morck finds that Department Q, the cold-case Siberia to which he was exiled in The Keeper of Lost Causes (2011), has become a little less chilly since he cracked the famous Lynggaard case although his uneasy partnership with the genial Assad has been complicated by the transfer of a difficult second assistant named Rose. A file lands on Morck’s desk and leads him to a group of industry titans who may have been getting away with murder literally since their days at an elite boarding school. Adler-Olsen riffs on inequality in Danish society, which is timely, although the predations of the bad guys are so over the top that they teeter on the edge of parody. And while Morck’s guilty feelings over his old partner’s injury gave depth to the first book, they’re treated cursorily here. Most memorable is the portrait of Kimmie, the absent one of the title, a damaged but deadly cipher who has fallen out with the group. She’s no Salander, but she’s almost as original. Less riveting than the first one, but worthwhile for fans…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrozen heat / Richard Castle.
“Hot on the heels of Richard Castle’s #1 New York Times bestseller Heat Rises comes the fourth novel in the Nikki Heat series, Frozen Heat. Nikki Heat and Jameson Rook are together again, facing an unsolved murder mystery that has haunted Nikki for ten years. NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat arrives at her latest crime scene to find an unidentified woman stabbed to death and stuffed inside a suitcase left on a Manhattan street. Nikki is in for a big shock when this new homicide connects to the unsolved murder of her own mother. Paired once again with her romantic and investigative partner, top journalist Jameson Rook, Heat works to solve the mystery of the body in the suitcase while she is forced to confront unexplored areas of her mother’s background. Facing relentless danger as someone targets her for the next kill, Nikki’s search will unearth painful family truths, expose a startling hidden life, and cause Nikki to reexamine her own past. Heat’s passionate quest takes her and Rook from the back alleys of Manhattan to the avenues of Paris, trying to catch a ruthless killer. The question is, now that her mother’s cold case has unexpectedly thawed, will Nikki Heat finally be able to solve the dark mystery that has been her demon for ten years?..(Description from

Syndetics book coverThe bone bed / Patricia Cornwell.
“In Alberta, Canada, an eminent paleontologist disappears from a dinosaur dig site, and at the Cambridge Forensic Center, Kay Scarpetta receives a grisly communication that gives her a dreadful reason to suspect this may become her next case. Then, with shocking speed, events begin to unfold. A body recovered from Boston Harbor reveals bizarre trace evidence hinting of a link to other unsolved cases that seem to have nothing in common. Who is behind all this? And whom can Scarpetta trust? Her lead investigator, Pete Marino, and FBI agent husband, Benton Wesley, are both unhappy with her because of personnel changes at the CFC, and her niece Lucy has become even more secretive than usual. Scarpetta fears she just may be on her own this time–against an enormously powerful and cunning enemy who seems impossible to defeat…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStick a fork in it / Robin Allen.Stick a Fork in It
“In Allen’s fun sequel to 2011’s If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Austin, Tex., health inspector Poppy Markham targets a new restaurant still under wraps, Capital Punishment, which features prison decor (electric chair, anyone?) and a menu of executed criminals’ last meals. The restaurant can’t open without her okay, and problem after problem keeps her returning to recheck progress-which stalls when Troy Sharpe, ex-jock and co-owner, is found hanged from the catwalk. The other owners-Troy’s twin brother, Todd, and the Sharpes’ schoolmate, Danny MacAdams-are determined to open on time, but construction chief Miles Archer struggles to get everything working at once. Determined to find out if Troy’s death is suicide or murder, Poppy must also contend with the mystery of the snack truck she can’t catch up with to inspect as well as her complicated love life. Lots of plot twists help make this a must-read for cozy lovers…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSilenced / Kristina Ohlsson.
“Fifteen years ago, a teenage girl is assaulted and raped as she picks flowers for a Midsummer’s Eve ritual. Cut to the present, and a man is killed in a hit and run. He has no identification on him, he is not reported missing nor wanted by the police. At the same time, a priest and his wife are found dead in an apparent suicide. Fredrika Bergman, along with Alex Recht’s federal investigation unit, is assigned to the seemingly unconnected cases. The investigations lead to a clandestine people-smuggling network: a new player on the international human smuggling market operating out of Bangkok. As the police slowly uncover the shocking hypocrisy behind the network, they begin to find a trail that runs all the way back to the 1980s, to a crime that went unreported, but whose consequences will reach further and deeper than anyone ever expected…” (Description from

Syndetics book coverWhat the cat saw / Carolyn Hart.
“This appealing first in a new paranormal cozy series from Agatha-winner Hart (Death Comes Silently and 21 other Annie Darling bookstore mysteries) introduces unemployed investigative reporter Nela Farley, who can read cats’ thoughts. When Nela’s flighty sister, Chloe, an employee of the charitable Haklo Foundation, suddenly decides to take a vacation, Nela comes to Craddock, Okla., to fill in for Chloe. Nela stays in the apartment of Haklo’s late chief operating officer, Marian Grant, who recently died in what seemed to be an accident, though Nela gathers from Marian’s cat that she was a victim of foul play. The suspense builds as everyone on the foundation’s small staff becomes a suspect, from trustee Blythe Webster, a powerful woman who expects to be treated with deference, to newly hired assistant curator Abby Andrews. Reporter Steve Flynn provides a romantic foil for Nela, while Det. K.T. Dugan believes Nela is up to no good. Traditional mystery fans will find a lot to like…”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)