But It’s a Dry Heat – four desert mystery series

Introducing four detectives who work in desert climes. Places where it may be hotter than here, but at least it’s a dry heat….

Det. Kubu Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department

A Carrion Death (M)
by Michael Stanley

“A skeleton is found in the Kalahari Desert in modern-day Africa.

It is unclothed, one of its arms is missing, and its teeth have been knocked out, making identification difficult. It falls to Det. David Bengu (aka Kubu) of the Botswana police to figure out what happened; in the meantime, more deaths follow. This well-plotted debut introduces a new mystery series and will enthrall readers, who should be aware that the author’s detailing of the cultural and social background of the Botswana people shares equal footing with the solving of the murders. Stanley is the writing duo of South Africans Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, who have shared adventures in the Kalahari. For readers who enjoy crime novels with African settings, such as those by Richard Kunzmann and Deon Meyer.” – Library Journal

Egyptian Police Detective Yusuf Khalifa

The Lost Army of Cambyses (M)
by Paul Sussman

A cinematic, rip-roaring adventure mystery, brimming with details of Egyptian archaeology and history. Niceties such as character development and believable dialogue are swept aside in a tale that begins with the army of the title, which utterly disappeared in a raging sandstorm. Cut to the present day, when Tara Mullvay, zoologist, finally decides to visit her archaeologist father in Egypt and finds him dead. Meanwhile, inspector Yusuf Khalifa of Luxor is investigating two murders, both of which involve ancient artifacts and a mutilated corpse. Tara soon finds that a small artifact her father left for her has put her in grave danger, and Yusuf tracks a connection between his murders and Tara’s father’s demise in interesting ways. Tara’s initial meeting with an old lover and their subsequent encounter with a cobra eerily echo Indiana Jones, while Khalifa’s warm family life and gentle practice of Islam are aligned against an Islamic terrorist group whose tactics are chillingly recognizable.” – Booklist

Arizona Detective Lena Jones

Desert Noir (M)
by Betty Webb

“When her friend who runs an art gallery across the street in Scottsdale, Ariz., is brutally murdered, Lena Jones of Desert Investigations decides to track down the killer in this highly accomplished debut of what promises to be an exciting new series. Clarice Kobe’s abusive husband, Jay, is the natural suspect, but the Apache artist George Haozous, whose graphically violent paintings were ejected from the gallery not long before, arouses suspicion, as do members of Clarice’s family and the owner of the adjoining gallery. And one trail may lead Lena to an answer she has been searching for her entire adult life her own identity: after being shot in the head at age four and left for dead, she grew up in a succession of foster homes. Webb uses these two quests to present a fully realized picture of Arizona, from barrios to mountaintop mansions, with the rich backdrop of Indian legend and desert facing erosion by urban sprawl….” A must read for any fan of the modern female PI novel.” Publisher Weekly

Arizona Sheriff Joanna Brady

Desert Heat (M)
by J.A. Jance

“Jance ( Hour of the Hunter ) has created a taut and poignant mystery. Joanna Brady finds her husband, Andy, shot in the Arizona desert on the night of their tenth wedding anniversary. But this, and Andy’s subsequent suspicious death in the hospital, is only the beginning of the destruction of the comfortable world of Joanna and her nine-year-old daughter, Jenny. The police decide that Andy, a sheriff’s deputy, tried to commit suicide. He is further implicated as the hit man in a mob rub-out and fingered as a crooked cop with drug-cartel connections. Even his personal life is dragged through the mud, as allegations of an extramarital affair surface. Neither mother nor daughter is spared from the brutality of the accusations: the DEA comes after Joanna, while schoolmates taunt Jenny. All the while, Jance cross-cuts to the contract killer who shot Andy. The conclusion features a classic confrontation, but the post-showdown ending seems trite. Until that moment, however, Jance’s tale crackles with tension. Joanna’s struggle and pain are affecting; Jance writes with an understanding that character is destiny.” – Publisher Weekly

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ReTales July 7: NSLC trivia, Dowtown Matresses & Dartmouth Crossing Thai