New Crime and Mystery Novels

Valerie Wilson Wesley’s Tamara Hayle novels ranked among my favorite mysteries when I began reading the genre seriously in the late 1990s. Hayle, a private investigator in Newark, was driven by a strong sense of justice, and the books radiated verve and warmth, making them especially enjoyable.

So it’s been a treat to watch Wesley at work on a new series, cozier and more paranormal-tinged, which began last year with “A Glimmer of Death” and continues now with A FATAL GLOW (Kensington, 208 pp., paper, $15.95), featuring the sleuthing adventures of the Realtor-turned-caterer Odessa Jones.

Jones really needs her new gig, working for a rich businessman, to boost her part-time cooking career to full-time heights. But the businessman in question gives off vibes so malevolent that she can’t help picking up on them. Still, there is “no whiff of nutmeg, the usual warning that death is heading my way,” to alert her that he is about to fall down dead in the middle of brunch.

That family secrets will be uncovered and nefarious motives exposed is a given. Jones — as well as the reader — will need to be guided by intuition to solve this particular mystery.

I hope Wesley’s return to the crime scene spurs the re-emergence of her earlier Hayle novels, which are well worth reading.

With QUARRY’S BLOOD (Hard Case Crime, 224 pp., paper, $12.95), Max Allan Collins finally bids goodbye to Quarry, his Marine sniper-turned-professional assassin, more than 10 years after “The Last Quarry,” by its title, promised to do so. This time feels like it’s for keeps, as the novel is set more or less in the present (there’s a reference to a character dying of Covid), and Quarry, pushing 70, is looking forward to retiring after all those decades of killing for hire.