The Book Buzz: Fall Return Of Favorite Detectives And Authors Plus More
By George Rishel

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This fall, some of our favorite fictional detectives--Harry Bosch, Joe Gunther, Cork O’Connor, Kay Scarpetta, Lincoln Rhyme, and Precious Ramotswe—return with new cases to solve. Harry Bosch, now retired, once again joins forces with detective Renee Ballard in Dark Hours to work a New Year’s Eve shooting that is linked to an unsolved murder, once worked by Harry. At the same time Ballard is also working a serial rapist case involving a pair called the Midnight Men. Bosch and Ballard fans won’t be disappointed. Archer Mayor gives Vermont state investigator Joe Gunther his 32nd case in Marked Man. Gunther and his team question the seemingly natural death of a wealthy local philanthropist when they discover his real name and the Mafia source of his money. Then family members start dying, and it is murder. Vermont is not always peaceful and bucolic.

Patricia Cornwell’s chief medical examiner Kay Scarpetta returns after a five-year absence, in Autopsy. Back in Virginia, Scarpetta faces two cases, one involving a woman with a slashed throat near Scarpetta’s home, and one which has her summoned to the White House to help solve a murder in space. In Jeffrey Deaver’s The Midnight Lock, Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs search for a criminal whose fascination with breaking locks terrorizes New York City. The hunt gets interrupted when an internal police investigation questions Rhyme’s role in a previous case, putting his relationship with the NYPD in doubt.

Far across the Atlantic Ocean in Botswana, Alexander McCall Smith’s intrepid Precious Ramotswe, owner of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and her friends are up to their necks in mysterious trouble in The Joy and Light Bus Company. In one case Mma Ramotswe wonders about her husband’s plan to mortgage his business to start a second venture. And in the other one she and Mma Makutsi look into a son’s concern that his father plans to leave his home to his nurse. In Lightning Strike, William Kent Krueger takes Cork O’Connor back to when he was 12, his father was sheriff, and when Cork stumbled across a man’s body. This story is as much about father and son bonding as solving a crime.

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Three more favorite authors—Mitch Albom, Louise Erdrich, and Diana Gabaldon—offer great new stories for our enjoyment. Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Gabaldon continues her Outlander series during revolutionary colonial America set in the North Carolina backcountry. It’s 1779, Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser are at last reunited with their daughter, Brianna, and her family. Young William Ransom is still coming to terms with the discovery of his true father’s identity as the Revolutionary War creeps closer to Fraser’s Ridge. Louise Erdrich’s newest book, The Sentence, features an Ojibwe woman who runs a small independent bookstore in Minneapolis during the pandemic and political unrest. The story kicks off when the store’s most persistent customer dies, and her ghost refuses to leave the store. Once again, Erdrich offers a moving mix of history, culture, reconciliation, and community.

In The Stranger in the Lifeboat, Mitch Albom asks what would happen if we called on God—and he actually showed up. Framed as a mystery, Albom considers the fate of nine survivors on a raft after a shipwreck. Running out of food, water, and hope, they nonetheless pull a man adrift in the water into their raft. And that man in the Lord himself.

The holiday season sees many new, great children’s books. Andrea Beatty with David Roberts Illustrating continues her STEM-oriented Questioners series with Aaron Slater, Illustrator. Aaron has dyslexia, making reading and writing difficult. But he finds a way to tell his story through pictures. Jory John and Peter Oswald have been writing a children’s picture book series called the Food Group with their newest addition being The Smart Cookie. This book joins The Bad Seed, The Good Egg, The Cool Bean, and The Couch Potato with a determined cookie who realizes there is much more to intelligence than perfect scores. Maybe, all the cookie needs is a dash of creativity and a sprinkle of confidence. Sharon Draper taught English for 25 years, and now writes great books for the middle grades. Out of My Heart is a sequel to Out of My Mind, with an older and braver Melody who is terrified of horses. But for summer camp she decides horseback riding is her next challenge if she can find a camp for differently-abled kids.

November 11 is Veteran’s Day, and what could be a greater book to remember our fallen soldiers by than Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrated by Matt Tavares. Presented as a children’s picture book with sparse text, it tells how the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be and how soldiers have guarded that tomb uninterrupted since midnight, July 2, 1937. Every step has a special meaning.

And for Elvis fans, Robert Elder penned Christmas with Elvis: The Official Guide to the Holidays from the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Christmas at Graceland was a time for Elvis to celebrate with family and friends, offering a respite from the road and recording studio—a time to sing gospel songs around the piano. The book offers a behind-the-scenes look at the music and songs Elvis sang and recorded in his bestselling holiday albums alongside favorite stories, trivia, and Yuletide cocktails and munchies, punctuated with color photographs and illustrations.

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