Affecting prose and depth of characterization largely compensate for the predictable plot of this whodunit set in 1957 Ireland from Booker Prize winner Banville (The Secret Guests). One snowy day, Det. Insp. St. John Strafford arrives at the house of Colonel Osborne in County Wexford to investigate the murder of an overnight guest, Fr. Tom Lawless. That morning, the colonel’s wife found Lawless on the library floor; he’d been stabbed in the neck and castrated. Strafford is dismayed to see how neatly the body is laid out with its hands clasped, and the colonel admits that he and at least one other member of his household did some tidying up. Strafford is later struck that, despite statements of affection for the Catholic priest, “No one was crying.” Pressure from the archbishop of Dublin leads the death to be reported publicly as an accident. Strafford’s inquiry follows standard lines, and the various reveals won’t surprise genre fans. This is not one of Banville’s best. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Oct.)
The first mystery Banville has written under his own name, rather than as Benjamin Black, Snow stars a crusty Protestant detective investigating a murder in County Wexford, buried in endless Snow. In Carlyle's debut, The Girl in the Mirror, jealous Iris takes over the identity—and the handsome husband—of golden-girl twin sister Summer, who mysteriously disappears from a yacht in the middle of the Indian Ocean (100,000-copy first printing). In House of Correction, French's new stand-alone, back-in-town Tabitha is arrested for murder when a dead body is found in her shed, and given her pill-popping history of depression and faded recollections of the day, she starts wondering if she really is guilty (50,000-copy paperback and 30,000-copy hardcover first printing). In Jewell's Invisible Girl, virginal 30-year-old geography teacher Owen Pick is suspended from his job for sexual misconduct he denies, ends up on a shady online involuntary celibate forum, and eventually is a suspect in a teenager's disappearance (250,000-copy first printing). Molloy follows up her New York Times best-selling The Perfect Mother with Goodnight Beautiful, about newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter, who have moved to his quiet upstate New York hometown as he pursues his career as a therapist, though, dangerously, his sessions are heard by neighbors through a ceiling vent (100,000-copy first printing). A Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner and finalist for multitudinous awards, Neville collects short crime, horror, and speculative fiction (some new to print) in The Traveller and Other Stories, a cogent example of Northern Irish noir. With Death and the Maiden, Norman wraps up mother Ariana Franklin's 1100s England-set series about Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, with an original story about Adelia's daughter, Allie, investigating when several girls go missing from a village she is visiting (40,000-copy first printing). The protean Oates offers four masterly, never-before-published novellas, exemplified by the titular story in Cardiff by the Sea, whose protagonist rediscovers past tragedy when she inherits a house in Maine from someone she doesn't know. In Patterson/Serafin's Three Women Disappear, a mob accountant who is the nephew of the don of central Florida is fatally stabbed in his own kitchen, and which of three women—his wife, his maid, or his personal chef—might be responsible (500,000-copy first printing)? Rankin's A Song for Dark Times witnesses the returns of Inspector Rebus (50,000-copy first printing). In The Devil and the Dark Water, Turton's follow-up to the top LibraryReads pick, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, famed detective Samuel Pipps is sailing back to Amsterdam in chains when terrifying events assault the crew, Pipps's sidekick vanishes, and Pipps himself is asked to puzzle out what's happening.