The Jigsaw Man
By Nadine Matheson. (Hanover Square Press, 496 pages, $27.99.)
I like to think I'm a good person — peace-loving, compassionate, prone to acts of kindness — but give me a good serial killer novel and I'll lick my lips and pour a nice Chianti. When I finished reading Matheson's "The Jigsaw Man" (in one sitting), I was gobsmacked to note that this nerve-racking, jaw-dropping, grisly, accomplished police procedural was Matheson's debut. Not only is the serial killer a fully fleshed out character (sorry, not sorry), but Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley is as worthy an opponent for a serial killer as Clarice or Tony Hill. Except Henley is a Black detective, complex, complicated, in charge, and fighting hard to stay a step ahead of the hacked-off body parts surfacing on the streets of London like puzzle pieces.
The Burning Girls
By C.J. Tudor. (Ballantine Books, 352 pages, $27.)
History crowned Henry VIII's daughter Bloody Mary because of her mass persecutions of Protestants. She burned hundreds at the stake, creating martyrs of many. This tragic history smolders beneath C.J. Tudor's sinister English village mystery, "The Burning Girls." The church at Chapel Croft is dilapidated and dangerous. Ditto the village, along with more than one or two of its residents. The village's newly appointed vicar must navigate the malevolence and a murder when they emerge from the wreckage of Chapel Croft's bloody past. Tudor's uncanny twisty plot is populated with intriguing, damaged characters and the slow-burning suspense leads to a crackling ending. Reminded me a lot of Minette Walters' suspense novels.
Heaven's A Lie
By Wallace Stroby. (Mulholland Books, 272 pages, $27.)
A dangerous curve, a speeding car, and a very bad decision crash into Joette Harper's night shift at a rundown Jersey Shore motel. Harper is doing her best to make frayed ends meet. Despite drowning in debt and grief, Harper's a hard worker, a compassionate woman, and a good friend. But after she steals a bag of stolen money from the car's wreckage, none of that matters. Harper's life becomes all about riding the rap. That means running from Travis Clay, who wants his cash back. All of it. Now. Wallace Stroby's writing is lean and lyrical, not a word wasted, not a page without action. The plot of "Heaven's a Lie" propels Clay and Harper and the reader to a breathless conclusion.