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From the Devil’s Farm, by Leta Serafim
A Greek American tourist, Lydia Pappas, stumbles upon a child’s body in the ruins of an ancient temple, well hidden on the top of a cliff. The boy has been bled dry, though no blood is in evidence, leading the Greek police investigator, Yiannis Patronas, to believe the killer must have collected it. Greece’s financial crisis has reduced the police force on Sifnos to one officer, Petros Nikolaidis, so Patronas has been summoned from his home base of Chios to aid in the case. Accompanying him are his colleagues, Giorgos Tembelos and Evangelos Demos, as well as Papa Michalis, an ancient Orthodox priest with a vast knowledge of detective fiction and an uncanny ability to ferret out the truth. Though eccentric and often irritating, Michalis has been an asset to Patronas over the years in a land where homicide was, until recently, a rare occurrence. But Greece is changing daily, with a tide of migrants straining the country’s already diminished resources and occasionally bringing out the worst in her people.
The child appears to have been sacrificed according to the rules of a pagan religious ritual. Is someone on Sifnos reviving the old ways? Or is there a thrill killer loose on the island? Is the culprit a Greek national or one of the many foreign migrants crowding its refugee camps?
Book 3 in the Greek Islands Mystery series.
Legitimate Business, by Michael Niemann
Ritu Roy, a constable with an all-female United Nations peacekeeping unit in Darfur, Sudan, has been shot dead. Her superiors call it a random shooting. Her best friend thinks otherwise. She’s found a bullet casing from a sniper’s rifle, an uncommon weapon in the refugee camp. The case remains closed until Valentin Vermeulen arrives to conduct a routine audit. As an investigator with the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, his job is to ferret out fraud. The casing is the first clue that Ritu may have stumbled onto a major criminal operation.
Solving the mystery of Ritu’s death leads Vermeulen down a perilous path. With the help of journalist Tessa Bishonga, he visits the hidden camp of a notorious rebel leader. On the streets of Port Sudan he dodges a parade of shady characters. In the end, Vermeulen must expose the players in the not so “legitimate” business of supplying weapons to Sudan … before they can hunt him down.
Book 1 in the Valentin Vermeulen Thriller series.
Illicit Trade, by Michael Niemann
Two poor Kenyan men visiting the U.S. are found dead, one in jail, one on the street. Both used forged UN documents to enter the country. Valentin Vermeulen’s superiors have no interest in the plight of undocumented immigrants, but they want him to stop the fraud. The clues take Vermeulen from New York City to Newark, where he riles a woman known as “The Broker,” then to Vienna.
Earle Jackson, a small-time hustler and the last person to speak with one of the dead Kenyans, has taken the man’s passport and money. He also finds a note listing an address in Newark, where his efforts to cash in on the situation go awry. Fleeing for his life, Jackson flies to Nairobi using the dead man’s passport.
Vermeulen and Jackson have chanced upon a criminal network more extensive and vicious than either could have imagined. To survive, Vermeulen must do more than sever a few links. He must find the mastermind at the top.
Book 2 in the Valentin Vermeulen Thriller series.
One Fell Swoop, by David Linzee
When mezzo-soprano Renata Radleigh stumbles over a corpse on London’s Hampstead Heath, she suspects the death has something to do with her brother Don’s boss, a billionaire speculator who will go to any lengths to keep his identity secret. Don is acting as his front-man in far-off St. Louis, Missouri, buying up a borderline slum called Parkdale. Don has an apartment in Parkdale and claims he wants to save the neighborhood. He’s even having a romance with a local community gardener, the sturdy Hannah.
Tipped off by a long-distance call from his girlfriend Renata, Peter Lombardo tails the slippery Don and discovers he really lives in the fashionable Central West End, where he seems to have a more glamorous lover. Peter is not buying Don’s new image. Not even the drug dealers trust the man.
Between singing engagements at a London mansion and a prison, Renata tries to find out the truth about Don’s employer and ends up pursued by his thugs, fleeing for her life. She flees all the way to St. Louis to join forces with her beloved Peter. Why is the powerful and charismatic chancellor of Adams University interested in Don’s dealings? What is Don up to? Does he know himself, or is he nothing but a patsy who could well pay for his cluelessness with his life, as well as the lives of Renata and Peter?
Book 2 in the Renata Radleigh Opera Mystery series, which began with Spur of the Moment.