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US Books Received- 01/2017  Next Month / Last Month
In order to provide timely reviews, we prefer to receive Advance Reader Copies of books when possible. Send books to Gayle Surrette / Editor c/o Gumshoe 16440 Baden Westwood Road Brandywine, MD 20613

Berkley

Assault and Beret (Hat Shop) by Jenn McKinlay (Berkley 03 January 2017 / ) - Product Description: London milliner Vivian Tremont and her American cousin and partner, Scarlett Parker, tip their caps to their beloved shop on Portobello Road in Notting Hill and set off for Paris, where Viv can't wait to teach a hat-making class. But she has another reason to travel to the City of Light: to find the man she impulsively eloped with years ago and have their marriage annulled.

William Graham is not only handsome and charming, but he also has a glamorous job as an insurance investigator who works with priceless pieces of art, most recently a small Renoir that has been discovered in a junk shop. But when both Will and the masterpiece suddenly disappear, it's up to the ladies from London to follow the trail of clues. They'll need to hold on to their chapeaux, however, because someone is a master in the art of deception.

(Source: Berkley)

Dead Cold Brew (Coffeehouse Mystery) by Cleo Coyle (Berkley 10 January 2017 / ) - Product Description: Coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi sheds tears of joy when her NYPD detective boyfriend surprises her with an engagement ring. But her bridal bliss is put on hold when a chilling mystery brings a wave of deadly danger to those she holds dear.

After everything Clare and Mike have been through, they deserve a little bit of happily ever after. So when Mike decides to put a ring on Clare's finger, Clare's eccentric octogenarian employer is there to help. She donates the perfect coffee-colored diamonds to include in the setting and the name of a world-famous jeweler who happens to be an old family friend. But while the engagement is steeped in perfection, the celebration is not long lived.

First, a grim-faced attorney interrupts their party with a mysterious letter bequeathing a strange, hidden treasure to Clare's daughter. Next, the renowned jeweler who designed Clare's ring is found poisoned in his shop. Both events appear to be connected to a cold case murder involving a sunken ship, an Italian curse, a suspiciously charming jewel thief, and a shocking family secret. With deadly trouble brewing, Clare must track down clues in some of New York's most secret places before an old vendetta starts producing fresh corpses. (Also recipes, including how to make cold-brew coffee at home.)

(see review)

Pop Goes the Murder (Popcorn Shop) by Kristi Abbott (Berkley 03 January 2017 / ) - Product Description: Gourmet popcorn entrepreneur Rebecca Anderson and her poodle, Sprocket, are back on the case, in the second Popcorn Shop Mystery from the author of Kernel of Truth.

Despite Rebecca Anderson's best efforts to distance herself from her ex-husband, the guy keeps popping up. When Antoine offers to feature her breakfast bars and popcorn fudge on his popular cooking show, she suspects he's once again trying to butter her up--but the TV exposure for her gourmet popcorn shop, POPS, is too good to turn down.

Things take a shocking turn when the crew comes to Grand Lake to film in her shop, and Rebecca discovers Antoine's assistant electrocuted in a hotel bathtub. Now the police want Antoine to come clean. Her ex may be a pain, but he's no killer. So Rebecca decides to bag the real culprit. If she isn't careful, however, she may be the next one getting burned. (Includes popcorn related recipes.)

(Source: Berkley)

Telling Tails (Second Chance Cat) by Sofie Ryan (Berkley 03 January 2017 / ) - Product Description: The author of A Whisker of Trouble returns as secondhand shop owner Sarah Grayson and her rescue cat, Elvis, get caught up in a case of she said, she said.

When Sarah Grayson opened a secondhand shop in the quaint town of North Harbor, Maine, she was expecting peace and quiet. Then she was adopted by a rescue cat named Elvis and a kooky trio of senior sleuths known as Charlotte's Angels. Now she has nine lives worth of excitement…

Sarah's friend and employee Rose is delivering a customer's purchase when the quick errand becomes a deadly escapade. Rose arrives just in time to see the customer murdered by his wife, but before she can call the police, she is knocked out cold. When she wakes up, no one believes her, especially after the woman claims her husband is very much alive and has left her for someone else--and has a text message and empty bank account to prove it.

Despite her convincing story, Sarah is sure something is fishy--and it's not Elvis's kitty treats. Sarah, Elvis, and the Angels are determined to unravel this mysterious yarn, before the feral killer pounces again.

(Source: Berkley)

Third Time's a Crime (Love or Money) by Diana Orgain (Berkley 03 January 2017 / ) - Product Description: After two hit reality TV shows brought ex-detective Georgia Thornton into America's living rooms, audiences can't get enough of her quest for love and justice. Now producers have come up with an all-new show set in a haunted castle in Golden, California. Georgia and nine other contestants will need to solve the mystery of a young woman who disappeared at the castle in 1960.

Except there's one rather substantial problem waiting for everyone when they arrive: a groundskeeper is found drowned at the bottom of the castle's empty pool. Now Georgia and the other contestants will need to work together, because there's a different sort of game afoot--and it's not one they can afford to lose.

(Source: Berkley)

Bitter Lemon Press

Athenian Blues by Pol Koutsakis (Bitter Lemon Press 03 January 2017 / ) - Product Description: Stratos hates being called a hitman. He takes care of problems. Permanently. Problems that people pay handsomely to have solved. His clients don't want to know the details, but Stratos is conscientious. He will only take on a job if his research shows that the targets deserve their fate.

In the midst of the Greek economic crisis, Stratos takes on the highest-profile case of his career. The most celebrated lawyer in Greece and his beautiful actress wife both bid for his services, but which one is telling the truth? Helped by his three childhood friends, Drag, a homicide cop, Teri, a high-class transgender sex worker, and Maria, the love of his and Drag's life, he realizes that truth is always relative.Especially when shattered loves and broken families are involved.

(Source: Bitter Lemon Press)

Crown Books for Young Readers

As Red as Blood by Salla Simukka (Crown Books for Young Readers 17 January 2017 / ) - Product Description: Lumikki Andersson has made it a rule to stay out of things that do not involve her. She knows all too well that trouble comes to those who stick their nose where it doesn't belong. But Lumikki's rule is put to the test when she uncovers thousands of washed Euro notes hung to dry in her school's darkroom and three of her classmates with blood on their hands. Literally.

A web of lies and deception now has Lumikki on the run from those determined to get the money back--no matter the cost. At the center of the chaos: Polar Bear, the mythical drug lord who has managed to remain anonymous despite his lavish parties and notorious reputation. If Lumikki hopes to make it out alive, she'll have to uncover the entire operation.

Even the cold Finnish winter can't hide a culprit determined to stain the streets red.

(Source: Crown Books for Young Readers)

Forge Books

I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions: A Contract Killers Novel by Erin Lyon (Forge Books 10 January 2017 / $15.99) - Product Description: In a world where marriage doesn't exist--only seven-year contracts--you don't marry, you sign. You don't divorce, you breach. And sometimes, you just expire.

Kate is struggling to find her footing. She gave up a career she hated to pursue the law, and now she's buried in debt and unemployed. At least she's signed to an amazing guy--hot, sweet, and committed.

Enter the contract killer, the man who pursues only signed women. No commitment, no hassle, all the fun. But Kate has enough fun on her plate ... until her partner doesn't re-up their contract.

After an epic but well-deserved meltdown, Kate gets practical. She accepts a job with her uncle's law firm, practicing signing law--the one type of law she swore she'd never do. And the contract killer? Now that Kate is single, she's no longer his type, but he still wants to be friends. Yeah, that'll work. Kate may be heartbroken, but she's not impervious to this sexy, smart, and complex man. But hey, it looks like he may not be impervious to her either--signed or not.

At the Publisher's request, the eBook version is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

(Source: Forge Books)

The Dangerous Ladies Affair (Carpenter and Quincannon) by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini (Forge Books 03 January 2017 / $25.99) - Product Description: For the firm of Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services, stopping extortionists is not only grand, but excitingly lucrative.

When a pleasant afternoon's bicycling through Golden Gate Park with a friend ends with the revelation of threatening letters, followed by a gunshot in a mansion garden, Sabina Carpenter knows this is a case that demands her immediate and undivided attention.

The questions her partner John Quincannon has to unravel are not difficult: Wrixton, a wealthy banker, has met his extortionist's first demand, but the order to pay another $5,000 is too much to face. The banker's real problem is something he doesn't want to reveal. That was fine with the detective, and when he was informed that some private letters were involved and Wrixton absolutely needed them back, there was nothing more Quincannon needed in the way of background. As with so many of San Francisco's elite, the bedroom doors never seemed to stay shut.

That was the easy part; far more difficult was the matter of the dead courier, murdered most foully in a locked room within a locked room, creating a trail that will take John Quincannon through most of San Francisco's less savory places and end with a riverboat trip that is anything but a relaxing cruise.

(Source: Forge Books)

Gallery/Scout Press

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik (Gallery/Scout Press 10 January 2017 / ) - Product Description: Winifred Allen needs a vacation. Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls' trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.

What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.

With intimately observed characters, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures--both friend and foe--that you won't soon forget.

(Source: Gallery/Scout Press)

Henery Press

River City Dead (Aggie Mundeen) by Nancy G. West (Henery Press 17 January 2017 / $15.95) - Product Description: Advice columnist Aggie Mundeen and SAPD Detective Sam Vanderhoven plan their first rendezvous at a San Antonio River Walk hotel during Fiesta Week--sumptuous sights, sounds, and festivities in the middle of America's Venice. A vacation from crime and a reset for their tumultuous relationship.

But murder descends on the Casa Prima Hotel. Disturbing revelations surface about the Fabulous Femmes, Aggie's new friends holding a convention. Evil emerges at parties in La Villita. Calamity plagues Aggie's debut dance performance at the Arneson River Theater, the celebration skewed by carousing, crazies, and corpses. Even in idyllic River City, crime complicates relationships.

Books in the Aggie Mundeen Humorous Mystery Series: Fit to be Dead, Dang Near Dead, Smart, But Dead, River City Dead. (Source: Henery Press)

Library and Archives Canada

Forbidden by F. Stone (Library and Archives Canada 29 January 2017 / $12.00) - Product Description: Year 2047, City of Samarra, capital of the Republic of Islamic Provinces & Territories Fifteen American travelers have vanished. Surrendering to Mayor Aamir's demands, Captain Sharif becomes the reluctant keeper of his city's bloody secret – and the witness, Eliza MacKay. The devout Muslim is horrified to discover that if he exposes the cover-up, his family will suffer dire consequences. The CIA has the lying Sharif in their cross hairs. Sharif's only hope is to prove his country's government is free of guilt. Secretly, he hunts forensic evidence. Cryptic messages, backstabbing informants, and corruption threaten Sharif's resolve to see justice served. When he discovers the shocking truth, he and MacKay become the targets of a ruthless killer. Sharif is tortured by his attraction to the impetuous Eliza MacKay. In spite of her struggle with PTSD, he's drawn to her vivacious personality. Islam forbids the intimacy he craves. In desperation to save Eliza, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.

(Source: Library and Archives Canada)

Minotaur Books

A Death at the Yoga Café (Keeley Carpenter) by Michelle Kelly (Minotaur Books 31 January 2017 / $26.99) - Product Description: Keeley Carpenter has found her center. After returning to Befrey, the traditional English village she called home ten years ago, she's opened her dream yoga café, which doubles as both a yoga studio and a delicious vegetarian café. Even better, Keeley is dating handsome Detective Ben Taylor, and things are beginning to look serious.

Too bad things never seem to run smoothly for lung. Eager to get involved with the local community, Keeley sets up a booth at the annual Belfrey Arts Festival, along with her nemesis, fellow small business owner Raquel. Preparing herself to play nice, she's shocked when Raquel's boyfriend, Town Mayor Gerald, is found dead after a public spat. Despite Ben's strict warnings to stay out of it, Keeley isn't going to let an innocent woman take the blame for the murder--even if it is glamorous, spoiled Raquel.

Now Keeley must balance a precarious murder investigation with the demands of her growing business and now-strained relationship. But when the killer takes a personal interest in Keeley, can she find the culprit before she gets bent out of shape?

(Source: Minotaur Books)

A Puzzle to Be Named Later (Puzzle Lady) by Parnell Hall (Minotaur Books 17 January 2017 / $24.99) - Product Description: The Puzzle Lady couldn't be happier. Matt Greystone, the rookie sensation who just signed a huge contract with the Yankees after coming to the team as the player to be named later in a trade with the Diamondbacks, winning 17 games as a starting pitcher, was coming to town to rehab from an arm injury. A diehard Yankee fan, Cora was delighted when Matt invited her to a weekend pool party.

On the plus side, she got to meet Derek Jeter.

On the minus side, she had to solve a puzzle (that was also named later) and a couple of the guests got killed.

(see review)

City of the Lost (Casey Duncan) by Kelley Armstrong (Minotaur Books 17 January 2017 / $15.99) - Product Description: Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey's best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana's husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it's time for the two of them to disappear again.

Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you're accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council's approval. As a murderer, Casey isn't a good candidate, but she has something they want: She's a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn't the only secret Rockton is hiding--in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.

(see review)

Dreamless (Odd Singsaker) by Jorgen Brekke (Minotaur Books 10 January 2017 / $15.99) - Product Description: A promising young singer is found dead in a clearing in a forest, gruesomely murdered--her larynx cut out, and an antique music box placed carefully atop her body, playing a mysterious lullaby that sounds familiar, but that no one can quite place. Chief Inspector Odd Singsaker, of the Trondheim Police Department, still recovering from brain surgery, is called in to investigate.

Singsaker, now married to Felicia Stone, the American detective he met while tracking down a serial killer (see Where Monsters Dwell), fears the worst when another young girl, also known for her melodic singing voice, suddenly goes missing while on a walk with her dog one night. As the Trondheim police follow the trail of this deadly killer, it becomes clear that both cases are somehow connected to a centuries-old ballad called The Golden Peace, written by a mysterious composer called Jon Blund, in the seventeenth century. This lullaby promises the most sound, sweet sleep to the listener--and as time ticks by, the elusive killer seems as if he will stop at nothing to get his hands on this perfect lullaby.

(see review)

Fever in the Dark (Jane Lawless) by Ellen Hart (Minotaur Books 31 January 2017 / ) - Product Description: On their one year wedding anniversary, Fiona and Annie return home from a trip together to discover that their poignant proposal video has been posted on YouTube and has garnered hundreds of thousands of hits. The video is on the verge of going viral, and there's enormous media interest in Fiona and Annie, as their fame comes just on the heels of the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage across the country. As some of the attention starts to turn vicious, Fiona pulls in an old friend, private investigator Jane Lawless, to help separate the harmless threats from the potentially harmful.

As the media storm continues to grow, Fiona revels in the attention, but Annie is furious. Fiona has always known that Annie has secrets, but her newfound notoriety threatens to bring Annie's past straight to their door. And then, when a murder occurs and Annie and Fiona are both suspects, it's up to Jane to prove their innocence ... although the more she learns, the more she starts to wonder whether they actually are innocent.

(Source: Minotaur Books)

Once a Crooked Man by David McCallum (Minotaur Books 10 January 2017 / $15.99) - Product Description: Sal, Max, and Enzo Buschetti have proved that crime pays and pays well over a lifetime of nefarious activity that they have kept hidden from law enforcement. Nowhere in any file o on any computer is there a record of anything illegal from which they have profited. But Max has a problem. His body is getting old and his doctor has told him to take it easy. Max has decided that the time has come for the family to retire.

But when actor Harry Murphy overhears the Bruschetti brothers planning changes to their organization, plans that include the murder of a man in London who knows too much, he make the egregious mistake of trying to warn the intended victim, and the Bruschettis' plans begin to unravel.

(Source: Minotaur Books)

Requiem for a Mezzo (Daisy Dalrymple #3) by Carola Dunn (Minotaur Books 31 January 2017 / $15.99) - Product Description: In March 1923, the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple takes a break from her writing to attend a performance of Verdi's Requiem at the Albert Hall with Scotland Yard's Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher. The tickets are a gift from Muriel Westlea, Daisy's neighbor and the sister of Bettina Westlea, who will be singing the mezzo role. What should be a pleasant afternoon is quickly disrupted when, during the performance, Bettina falls dead on stage--killed by cyanide poisoning. While it is quickly determined that Bettina's on-stage glass of liqueur was laced with the poison, discovering the person responsible will not prove to be an easy task.

Bettina was neither well liked nor well behaved, and many of her colleagues, associates, and even her family had good reason to want her dead. Daisy, determined to help Detective Chief Inspector Fletcher whether he wants help or not, decides to do some investigating on her own. But with so many suspects, the murderer may well go free.

(Source: Minotaur Books)

The Silence of the Sea (Thora Gudmundsdottir) by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Minotaur Books 31 January 2017 / $15.99) - Product Description: As The Silence of the Sea opens, a luxury yacht crashes into a Reykjavik pier. But the boat is empty; no one is on board. What has happened to the crew? And what has happened to the family who were very much present when the yacht left Lisbon?

What should Thora Gudmundsdottir, the series sleuth, make of the rumors that the vessel was cursed? She is spooked even more when she boards the yacht and thinks she sees one of the missing children. Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht's former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore?

(Source: Minotaur Books)

Seventh Street Books

An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock by Terry Shames (Seventh Street Books 03 January 2017 / $15.95) - Product Description: When the Jarrett Creek Fire Department is called to douse a blaze on the outskirts of town, they discover a grisly scene: five black young people have been murdered. Newly elected Chief of Police Samuel Craddock, just back from a stint in the Air Force, finds himself an outsider in the investigation headed by the Texas Highway Patrol. He takes an immediate dislike to John Sutherland, a racist trooper

Craddock's fears are realized when Sutherland arrests Truly Bennett, a young black man whom Craddock knows and respects. Sutherland cites dubious evidence that points to Bennett and Craddock uncovers facts leading in another direction. When Sutherland refuses to relent, Craddock is faced with a choice that will define him as a lawman--either let the highway patrol have its way, or take on a separate investigation himself.

Although his choice to investigate puts both Craddock and his family in danger, he perseveres. In the process, he learns something about himself and the limits of law enforcement in Jarrett Creek.

(Source: Seventh Street Books)

Where I Can See You by Larry D. Sweazy (Seventh Street Books 10 January 2017 / $15.95) - Product Description: Haunted by the disappearance of his mother when he was eight years old, detective Hud Matthews begins his own investigation to find out what really happened so many years before. When a rare murder occurs in the lakeside community, Hud's veteran skills are called upon to capture the killer. Pulled deep into the threads of the community with ties to the past, Hud quickly becomes a target, not only of the killer, but of those who wish the past to be left alone. As Hud gets closer to discovering the truth about the crimes, he has to face a choice of enforcing the law, or stepping outside of it to make sure that his version of justice is served.

(see review)

Soho Crime

For Time and All Eternities (Linda Wallheim) by Mette Ivie Harrison (Soho Crime 10 January 2017 / ) - Product Description: The Mormon church may have disavowed the polygamy it became so famous for in the 19th century, but for some Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints, "plural marriage" isn't just ancient history.

Mormon bishop's wife Linda Wallheim is stunned to learn her son Kenneth has gotten engaged to a young woman from a polygamous family. Naomi Carter may have left the religion she grew up in, but the Carters will still be the Wallheims' in-laws once Kenneth and Naomi are married.

Stephen Carter, Naomi's father and the patriarch of the Carter clan, invites the Wallheims over to the Carter family compound in the remote foothills of the mountains outside Salt Lake City. Stephen Carter wishes to extend an olive branch to his future in-laws, and introduce them to his five wives and twenty-two children. But Linda suspects he also wants to try to persuade the Wallheims that his way of life is truly righteous.

From Linda's point of view, polygamy is an abhorrent practice, one that dehumanizes women and makes children vulnerable to unhealthy family structures. She and her husband, Kurt, arrive at the Carter compound braced for trouble--Linda has her eyes peeled for signs that Stephen's wives and children are unhappy or abused. Although she can't find concrete evidence of mistreatment, Linda's gut instinct tells her that something on the Carter family compound is deeply wrong. She can't quite put her finger on what—until it's too late, and one of the family members is found murdered.

Afraid that Stephen Carter's unworldly, sequestered wives and children might suffer at the hands of investigating police, Linda vows to stay at the compound until the murderer is found and the survivors are safe. But even if she manages to do more good than harm with her snooping and interfering, Linda can't unsee what she has seen during her time at the Carters'--now, confronting the legacy of polygamy in her own Mormon family raises even more questions about her already shaky faith.

(Source: Soho Crime)

St. Martin's

Fudge and Jury (Bakeshop) by Ellie Alexander (St. Martin's 03 January 2017 / $7.99) - Product Description: Welcome to Torte--a friendly, small-town family bakery where the pastries are delicious…and, now, suspicious.

It's almost spring in Ashland, Oregon, and the town is preparing for the Shakespeare and the annual Chocolate Festival. Business is cookin' at Torte, and the store is expanding as Jules' team whips up crèpes filled with mascarpone cheese and dark chocolate. Torte stands a chance of being this year's confectionery belle of the ball! Life couldn't be sweeter--unless murder taints the batter.

Evan Rowe, of Confections Couture, makes a chocolate fountain that would put Willy Wonka to shame, and his truffles are to die for--literally? Yes, the world-renowned chocolatier has just turned up dead...right after sampling a slice of Jules' decadent four-layer chocolate cake. Now all eyes are on Jules as she tries to find the mysterious ingredient in her own recipe. Can she sift out the truth before another contestant bites the buttercream?

(Source: St. Martin's)

Thomas Dunne Books

The Breakout by Ryan David Jahn (Thomas Dunne Books 31 January 2017 / $25.99) - Product Description: James Murphy is a Marine Corps sniper. He's done two tours in Afghanistan. He's considered an American Hero. And James is out for revenge.

Alejandro Rocha, a massively powerful drug kingpin who operates out of La Paz, Mexico, is responsible for James's sister, Layla's death, and he intends to make Rocha pay for it.

James goes AWOL from his unit and travels to Mexico, ready to enact bloody vengeance, but before he can go through with his plan, he is arrested by the crooked police of La Paz. He’s quickly thrown into a dangerous prison on trumped-up charges. He knows he is marked for death while in this prison and there’s nothing he can do about it. However, there is a group of people who can do something about it.

Discovering that James is wasting away in a Mexican prison, the marines in his unit decide to risk court-martial themselves and go AWOL as well, ready to go to war in order to break their brother out. And that's just the beginning of the mayhem and violence.

(Source: Thomas Dunne Books)

William Morrow

Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang (William Morrow 10 January 2017 / ) - Product Description: In 1908, Jialing is only seven years old when she is abandoned in the courtyard of a once-lavish estate near Shanghai. Jialing is zazhong--Eurasian—and faces a lifetime of contempt from both Chinese and Europeans. Without her mother's protection, she can survive only if the estate's new owners, the Yang family, agree to take her in.

Jialing finds allies in Anjuin, the eldest Yang daughter, and Fox, an animal spirit who has lived in the haunted courtyard for centuries. But Jialing's life as the Yangs' bondservant changes unexpectedly when she befriends a young English girl who then mysteriously vanishes.

Always hopeful of finding her long-lost mother, Jialing grows into womanhood during the tumultuous early years of the Chinese republic, guided by Fox and by her own strength of spirit, away from the shadows of her past. But she finds herself drawn into a murder at the periphery of political intrigue, a relationship that jeopardizes her friendship with Anjuin and a forbidden affair that brings danger to the man she loves.

(see review)

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