Valerie Wilson Wesley’s Tamara Hayle novels were among my favorite mysteries when I started 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 fervor and warmth, which made them particularly enjoyable.
So it was a joy to watch Wesley at work on a new series, more fun and more paranormal, which started last year with “A Glimmer of Death” and now continues with A FATAL GLOW (Kensington, 208 pp., paper, $15.95)with the detective adventures of Odessa Jones, a real estate agent turned caterer.
Jones really needs her new gig, working for a wealthy businessman, to take her part-time cooking career to full-time heights. But the businessman in question is giving off vibes so evil that she can’t help but pick them up. Still, there’s “not a whiff of nutmeg, the usual warning that death is coming my way,” to warn her that he’s about to drop dead over brunch.
That family secrets are revealed and nefarious motives are revealed is a given. Both Jones and the reader will need to be guided by intuition to solve this particular mystery.
I hope Wesley’s return to the crime scene will fuel the re-emergence of her earlier Hayle novels, which are well worth reading.
Of QUARRY’S BLOOD (Hard Case Crime, 224 pp., paper, $12.95)† Max Allan Collins finally bids farewell to Quarry, his Marine sniper turned professional assassin, more than 10 years after “The Last Quarry,” according to the title, promised to do so. This time it feels like it’s forever, as the novel is set more or less in the present (there’s a reference to a character dying from Covid), and Quarry, who is 70 years old, is looking forward to retiring. going after all those decades of murders for rent .