ON THE SHELF: Fiction series favorites for the senses

Published 8:00 am Sunday, January 9, 2022

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

This week’s column features new additions to your favorite fiction series.

Sarah Fox offers the second installment of her “Literary Pub” mystery series with “An Ale of Two Cities.” Shady Creek, Vt., is a quintessential small tourist town. The Winter Carnival always brings loads of holiday cheer —and tourists with lots of money. Booklover and pub owner Sadie Coleman finds herself at the center of these festivities, glittering decorations and twinkling lights. She is busy creating original cocktails, hosting a literary trivia event and cheerleading for her loyal employee Melanie “Mel” Costas as she competes in the ice carving competition. Also competing in this year’s competition is chef Freddy Mancini, who arrived with his nose in the air and boasted of his superior ice-sculpting skills. During the artists’ break in the contest, Mel’s tools go missing and chef Freddy is found dead with her missing pick in his chest. Though the police focus on Mel, Freddy was no saint and there were many others with a motive — namely his assistant, his mentor, his former flame and even his half-brother. Sadie runs to Mel’s defense and makes sure the police don’t hastily arrest the wrong suspect — all while flirting with the local brewery owner.

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The third book of the wildly popular Japanese murder mystery series featuring Detective Kosuke Kindaichi and written by Seishi Yokomizo is called “The Village of Eight Graves.” The titular village is nestled deep in the misty mountains and takes its name from a bloody legend: in the Sixteenth Century, eight samurais had taken refuge there to safeguard a secret treasure, but they were murdered by the local people. This atrocity brought a horrible curse on the village. Centuries later, when a mysterious young man named Tatsuya arrives in town, a series of deadly poisonings occur and the unkempt, yet brilliant Detective Kosuke Kindaichi jumps on the case.

James Patterson’s most celebrated character, Alex Cross, returns in his 29th thriller with “Fear No Evil.” For years, Dr. Alex Cross and his family have been stalked by an unrelenting killer. Alex and Detective John Sampson venture into the rugged Montana wilderness, not on a job, but on a personal mission. When they are attacked by two separate teams of assassins, they will need every bit of their strength and cunning to survive the attack orchestrated by a twisted mastermind. As darkness falls and the river churns into rapids, shots ring out through the forest. Will Alex’s stalker meet his goal, or will justice prevail?

Jane Cleland’s “Josie Prescott Antique” mysteries gets its 14th installment with her latest, “Jane Austen’s Lost Letters.” Josie Prescott is in the middle of filming her new television series, Josie’s Antiques, when the assistant director interrupts to let her know that she has a visitor. Josie goes outside and finds an elegant older woman named Veronica Sutton. Veronica claims that she is an old friend of Josie’s late father. Curiously, the jumpy Veronica hands Josie a brown paper-wrapped package and leaves. When she opens the package, she finds a notecard bearing her name — in her father’s handwriting — and a green leather shoebox. There are two letters in transparent plastic sleeves contained therein. The first letter bears the salutation, “My dear Cassandrea,” the latter, “Dearest Fanny.” Both are signed “Jane Austen.” Josie’s heart skips a beat, and she tries to track down Veronica to see what she knows about Josie’s father and whether the Jane Austen letters are genuine. As she closes in on the truth, Josie finds herself in danger and learns that some people will go to dangerous lengths to keep a secret.

Lieutenant-Colonel Sharpe is back in “Sharpe’s Assassin” — the 22nd title in the popular series by author Bernard Cornwell. Sharpe has been called many things — outsider, hero, rogue, loose cannon — but he is definitely the man you want to have your back when things go down. He was born in the gutter and raised as an orphan. Twenty-one years ago, he joined the army and it has been his home ever since. While the dust is still settling from the Battle of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington finds himself needing a favor, so, naturally, he turns to Sharpe. It seems that, even though Napoleon’s army is defeated, another enemy lurks in the shadows. This secretive group of fanatical revolutionaries is dead set on revenge. Sharpe’s newest battleground is the maze of Paris streets where the lines between friend and foe are blurred and the search for a spy is fraught with danger from an assassin determined to kill his target or die trying.

Romance author Judith McNaught offers the first in her Sequels series, called “Once and Always.” Fiery and free-spirited American beauty Victoria Seaton sails the ocean in an effort to reclaim her heritage at Wakefield, the opulent English estate of her distant cousin — the notorious Lord Jason Fielding. Victoria is puzzled by Jason’s arrogance but drawn to his natural grace and the painful memories she sees in his dark eyes. When they finally wed, they revel in their joy — assured that the cruelties of the past are behind them for good. Then, Victoria is pained to discover the treachery that lies behind their love and she fears the everlasting love she had always longed for is gone forever.