We have 5 terrific nominations, including one that is set in Ireland--how perfect for March! Only one has been nominated before, so the other 4 are all new. Three are for the first installments of popular series, and the remaining 2 are free standing mystery novels. Poll will be up this evening. The winner will be our March book, the runner-up will be the April selection.
1. Crewel World by Monica Ferris
“Margot Berglund owns a needlework and wool store called Crewel World. She's fifty-three, a widow and an expert in her field. Her store does very well for a small town, and she is able to support two part time staff as well as other casual workers. Her husband Aaron had been a wealthy man but despite this she lives a simple life, causing speculation among the town's people. Margot's older sister, Betsy, comes to live with her. When Betsy was young she ran off to join the navy and married a sailor and now her second husband is divorcing her. Betsy seems to be planning to sponge off Margot, she sees living off Margot an easy solution to her problems, at least for the short term. In the idyllic world of Margot there are some problems. Her landlord wants her building so he can build something new and charge more, but Margot has a cheap lease that is good for another four years. So Joe sues Margot regularly and threatens her too, but she has a good lawyer to protect her. She also has a "Wanta be" successor who wants to run her own needlework store in a town that cannot support two. Irene is a little nuts and readily admits that she wants something to happen to Margot so that she can take over. Unfortunately for Irene she has no people skills and is not very successful with the customers. A few nights after her arrival, Betsy comes home and finds Crewel World trashed and Margot murdered. The mystery begins and Betsy takes it into her own hands when she thinks the police aren't doing enough.”—Literary Times.
2. Haunted Ground by Erin Hart
“Two brothers "cutting turf" from a peat bog in the Irish countryside discover the head of a beautiful red-haired woman, decapitated and perfectly preserved in the decay-resistant bog. Who is she, and how long has her head been in the ground? Irish archaeologist Cormac Macguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin are summoned from Dublin to help answer those questions, but soon they are immersed in another mystery: Will the bodies of the recently disappeared wife and son of the local landowner, Hugh Osborne, also be found in the depths of Drumcleggan bog? And did Osborne put them there, as many local villagers suspect? First-novelist Hart follows her gripping set-piece opening (evoking the bodies-in-the-snow tableau from Gorky Park) with an utterly beguiling mix of village mystery, gothic suspense, and psychological thriller. Just as Macguire and Gavin are drawn into, first, the mystery of the red-haired girl and, second, the question of Osborne's guilt or innocence, so Hart draws us into, first, life in the small Galway village near where the girl was found and, finally, the insular world of Bracklyn House, family home of the Osbornes (think Manderley in Rebecca). Atmosphere is all in this detail-rich novel, from the traditional Irish music that not only plays in the background but also helps drive the plot (Hart is a founder of Minnesota's Irish Music and Dance Association) to the fascinating snippets of history concerning peat bogs, archaeological methodology, and the devastating effects on the Irish people of the Cromwellian resettlement in the seventeenth century. Simultaneously, Hart breathes life into local history the way Graham Swift did in Waterland; reinvents the du Maurier formula for gothic suspense; and brings new texture and psychological acuity to the usual suspects from the generic village mystery. In every way, this is a debut to remember”—Booklist starred review by Bill Ott
3. Once a Thief by Susan Ledbetter
“In the space of three years, Ramey Burke lost her mother, father, and husband. The worst of her grief has passed, and she now lives in the old family home in a small town in Missouri, schlubbing around in her sweats and eating when she isn't preparing houses for sale. But her quiet life takes a U-turn when three long-incarcerated relatives show up at her door. Now senior citizens, her aunt Melba Jane and uncles Ed and Archie Dillinger (the Other Dillinger Gang) were once notorious bank robbers. With nowhere else to go, they promise to make themselves useful if allowed to stay. Ramey reluctantly agrees. But within days, the body of "Shifty" Falcone, the Dillinger's getaway driver, is found on Ramey's property. When attractive Detective Mike Constantine arrives on the scene, Ramey's placid life shifts into overdrive as she attempts to find the real killer, deal with her comical houseguests, and fend off a would-be suitor. Funny, smart, and moving”—Booklist starred review by Maria Hatton.
4. On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle
“Carolyn arrives at work to discover the assistant manager dead in the back of the store, coffee grounds strewn everywhere. Two detectives investigate. But when they find no sign of forced entry or foul play, they deem it an accident. Still, Carolyn is not convinced. And after the police leave, Carolyn can't help wondering...If this was an act of murder, is she in danger?” (Synopsis from book, no journal review available)
5. The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picault
“There are no black and whites in Picoult's latest novel, except for the drawings that graphic artist Daniel Stone inks. Stone, a former bad boy who grew up among the Yup'ik Eskimos in Alaska, now lives a sedate life in Bethel, Maine, with his college-professor wife, Laura, and his 14-year-old daughter, Trixie. But the night Trixie's ex-boyfriend, Jason, rapes her at a party is the night Daniel's carefully ordered life falls apart. Daniel is forced to acknowledge that he's ignored the distance growing between him and his daughter and that his wife, a Dante scholar at a local college, is having an affair. After the rape, Trixie's classmates turn on her, and even her best friend, Zephyr, sides with Jason, a school hockey star whose future seems bright. When Trixie claims she was drugged and the evidence backs her up, the tide turns against Jason, and another tragedy sends Trixie fleeing Maine for her father's childhood home of Alaska, forcing Daniel to confront the demons he'd hoped he'd left in the past. Picoult's sad, complex novel should appeal to the many readers who have enjoyed her previous works”—Starred review in Booklist by Kristine Huntley