We love a mystery. Setting can be crucial to a whodunit, whether it be the isolation and limited resources of a small town or the overwhelming suspect pool and crusade against the system of the big city. Here are two puzzlers in which the investigator finds that crimes of the present are linked to scandals of the past.
Hardball by Sara Paretsky
Seasoned private investigator V.I. Warshawksi follows her cases where they lead, but she doesn’t expect a missing person’s case to take her back to an ugly time in Chicago’s past. Not only does the death of a young black woman at a peaceful march led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1966 come into play but also ties to Warshawki’s own family history. In the present, V.I.’s own fresh-out-of-college cousin is kidnapped after her arrival in Chicago, but that’s a separate mystery — isn’t it?
Red Bones by Anne Cleeves
You can’t get much more small-town than the remote Shetland Islands, an area that is spoiled for lack of major crime. When Inspector Jimmy Perez is called to the scene of a shooting death, one of an eccentric grandmother, it first appears a tragic hunting accident. However, the bones at a nearby archaeological dig may not be nearly as old as first believed, and that may shed light on the current investigation. You may know the story from the BBC series Shetland, but don’t miss the full impact of the novel’s tight plotting and atmosphere.