Funeral for a Friend
By Brian Freeman. (Blackstone, 336 pages, $27.99.)
Duluth detective Jonathan Stride's latest investigation is "seriously messed up." Stride's a suspect in an investigation that seven years ago, he "deliberately obstructed." You read that right. Stride, the beloved and principled force for good in the Duluth police, obstructed justice. Turns out, Stride was with a murder victim on the night he disappeared and Stride lied about it. The victim was an investigative journalist, pursuing an anonymous tip that a Minnesota politician sexually assaulted a teenager 20 years earlier. Stride claims he thought the victim drowned in the Deep, the popular and dangerous cliff-jumping spot on Amity Creek. Maggie conducts the official investigation while Serena runs an unofficial one. Brian Freeman writes the best kind of psychological procedurals. His characters struggle with the moral consequences of the crimes they investigate, and his plots are as twisty and fast-moving as Lake Superior's undertow.
Carole E. Barrowman
By Ian K. Smith. (Thomas & Mercer, 287 pages, $24.95.)
I don't watch much daytime TV so I didn't know Ian K. Smith was on "The Doctors" and is a bestselling author of fitness books. Why am I telling you this? Because Smith has skills. Many of them are on display in this terrific Chicago-based PI novel, featuring ex-cop Ashe Cayne. Cayne refused to participate in a coverup of a shooting of a Black man and quit instead. Like VI Warshawski, Cayne knows Chicago. In fact, the novel reminded me a lot of another iconic PI, Robert B. Parker's Spenser. Cayne is younger and cooler than Spenser, but his banter is as irreverent, his worldview as cynical, and his wing man as intimidating. When a young socialite disappears, Cayne's investigation drives him back and forth between Chicago's historic mansion-lined streets "where nothing speaks louder than the unspoken" to its "gang-ridden, drug-fueled" ones. This is the first in a series. I'm already in line for the second.
One by One
By Ruth Ware. (Gallery/Scout, 384 pages, $27.99.)
If we were to go on an Alpine skiing holiday together, I'd be the one lounging in the lodge, drinking hot chocolate or mulled wine and reading all the books. And I'd likely be the first person murdered in Ruth Ware's delightfully entertaining Agatha Christie-like, locked-chalet mystery. An interesting cast of characters, mostly the spoiled shareholders of a music app company and the chalet's chefs, find themselves trapped together in a secluded Swiss boutique hotel after an avalanche thwarts their skiing. It doesn't stop the eating, the drinking, the conniving, the backstabbing or the murders.