An initiative of the American Library Association

Mystery Across America

By Shari Randall

For many, summer means it’s time to hit the road. I love to travel, but there’s never enough time―or money―to go to all the places I’d like to go. So I do what all readers do―travel in the pages of a book.

This month’s list of mysteries spans states across the US, showcasing books with a strong sense of place, where the setting is so vibrant it’s practically another character in the book.

So if you can’t get away, try a staycation with one of these books. I asked each author to tell us a bit about their book and the settings they bring to life.

Bon voyage!

Anchorage, Alaska

Deadly Solution

by Keenan Powell

Less than a year after drinking sidelined her career as a Public Defender, attorney Maeve Malloy is asked to defend an Aleut Indian accused of beating another homeless man to death. Set in fiercely majestic and wild Anchorage, Alaska, the novel revolves around this young female attorney struggling to establish her practice, and figure out her disastrous romantic life, as she delves into the homeless culture.

Level Best Books, 2018.

Click for a Discussion Guide.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

A Lack of Temperance

by Anna Loan-Wilsey

On the eve of the heated presidential election of 1892, Miss Hattie Davish arrives in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a scenic resort town where those without the scent of whiskey on their breath have the plight of temperance on their tongues. Summoned for her services as a private secretary, Hattie is looking forward to exploring the hills, indulging her penchant for botany, and getting to know the town's handsome doctor. But it's hard to get her job done with her employer nowhere to be found. . .

Kensington, 2012.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click for a Discussion Guide

Santa Cruz, California

Art, Wine, and Bullets

by Vinnie Hansen

An innocent visit to a Santa Cruz art gallery during Open Studios turns into a nightmare case for Private Investigator Carol Sabala. The strangled body of the gallery owner offers an opportunity to cement her reputation and to save her employer from insolvency. But precious time spent assisting her photographer boyfriend impedes her investigation while his sudden obsession with photographing her impedes their relationship. As Carol plunges into the art world, she unravels much more than a murder case.

Misteria Press, 2014.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click for a Discussion Guide.


Cross Current

by Christine Kling

Seychelle's life takes a turn when her tug intercepts a swamped fishing boat in the Gulf Stream. Inside the boat is a little girl in a bloodied white dress. When Seychelle returns to shore with the traumatized Haitian girl, she is faced with the Border Patrol, the police, and an unraveling love affair. Determined to protect the child, Seychelle becomes obsessed with the forces that nearly killed the girl–and left her speechless with terror. Cross Current is taut, suspenseful, and filled with descriptions of Florida's many moods and guises–from million-dollar waterfront homes to haunted, backwater mangrove swamps and secret Voodoo rituals.

Tell-Tale Press, 2012.

Click to Read the Booklist Review.

Endurance, Illinois

Three May Keep a Secret

by Susan Van Kirk

Grace Kimball, recently retired high school teacher in the small town of Endurance, Illinois, finds herself in danger when she investigates the arson death of a past colleague with lots of enemies. Joining her former student, Detective TJ Sweeney, Grace steps into the victim’s job and discovers the hard way that people in town have secrets they will kill to hide. Three May Keep a Secret combines mystery, humor, history, and romance, along with a small-town atmosphere that will resonate with readers.

Five Star, 2014.


Death at the Doorstep

by Linda W. Fitzgerald

“When people ask me to describe the main characters of Death at the Doorstep, I always include Michigan near the top of the list. Specifically: Ann Arbor, long known as the state's favorite college town, and Marquette, an equally charming college town 400 miles away in Michigan's beautiful and remote upper peninsula.” --Linda W. Fitzgerald

Lulu Publishing Services, 2016.


A Sharp Solitude: A Novel of Suspense

by Christine Carbo

An intensely private resident FBI agent meddles in a sticky murder investigation where she doesn't belong and the chief suspect is her ex, the father of her child. Propulsive and suspenseful, evoking the breathtaking beauty of Glacier National Park and its surrounding areas, A Sharp Solitude demonstrates that people can't outrun their demons, even in the vast, wild terrain of Northwest Montana.

Atria Books, 2018.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click for a Discussion Guide.

Click to Read the Booklist Review.

New Hampshire

Antique Blues

by Jane K. Cleland

Josie is thrilled to appraise the 19th-century Japanese woodblock print just acquired by her friend, Mo, and the vintage Martin guitar reputedly played by the great bluesman, Robert Johnson, that’s owned by Mo’s dad. Then Mo is murdered. Join Josie in charming Rocky Point on the rugged coast of New Hampshire is this twisty tale of love, obsession, and betrayal. Antique Blues encourages a lively discussion with themes of domestic violence, the anatomy of love, and the nature of beauty.

Minotaur, 2018.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click for a Discussion Guide.

Click to Read the Booklist Review.

New York City

Unholy City

by Carrie Smith

Days before Palm Sunday, the bloody corpse of senior churchwarden Philip Graves is found lying in the herb garden of historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. On first glance, his murder looks like a random act of big city violence, but it soon becomes clear that his death was the result of a meticulously calculated crime perpetrated by someone who knew him. This locked room mystery set on the Upper West Side reflects the diverse cultures of New York City.

Crooked Lane Books, 2017.

Click to Read the Booklist Review.


The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, An Alafair Tucker Mystery #1

by Donis Casey

Alafair Tucker is well aware that her neighbor, Harley Day, a drunkard and a reprobate, is discovered frozen in a snowdrift one January day in 1912. Harley’s son is the prime suspect and Alafair discovers that her seventeen-year-old daughter, Phoebe, may be his accomplice in murder. Called “Pitch-perfect for the Oklahoma frontier,” this first novel presents a compelling mystery and a remarkable evocation of a time, not yet 100 years past, that is so far removed from life today we can barely imagine its daily toll—and joys.

Poisoned Pen Press, 2005.

Click to Read a Q&A.

Click to Read the Booklist Review.

Seattle, Washington

Assault & Pepper

by Leslie Budewitz

When one of her employees is suspected of killing a homeless man on the sidewalk outside the Seattle Spice Shop, owner Pepper Reece takes it on herself to sniff out the clues. But if she's not careful, her nosy ways might make her next on the killer's list. Assault & Pepper is the first in a popular, on-going series with a strong sense of setting in Seattle's Pike Place Market—one the country's most vibrant, enduring, even magical places.

Berkley, 2015.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click for a Discussion Guide.

Shari Randall is the author of the new Lobster Shack Mystery series, which is set on Long Island Sound in the village of Mystic Bay, Connecticut. It’s a charming place rich in history, gorgeous scenery, long buried secrets—and lobster rolls! She is Library Liaison for Sisters in Crime.


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