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For a whole lot of reasons, it might feel right this month to focus on books that take us somewhere else — to another time and place far from here. So "The House on Vesper Sands," by Irish author Paraic O'Donnell, seemed to be dropped in my lap as a gift from the crime-fiction gods. It takes place in 1893 London, on a series of wintry nights made otherworldly, a character notices, by snow. "He ...

“Black Firsts: 500 Years of Trailblazing Achievements and Ground-Breaking Events” by Jessie Carney Smith; Visible Ink Press (704 pages; $29.95) ––– It’s painful being a pioneer. “Black Firsts: 500 Years of Trailblazing Achievements and Ground-Breaking Events” is a proud celebration of Black success. But its thousands of entries – groundbreakers in every field – often come with nagging ...

"Murder in Old Bombay" by Nev March; Minotaur (400 pages, $26.99) ——— The ongoing St. Martin’s Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition has launched the careers of several solid mystery writers. Author Nev March continues this history of excellence with her absorbing debut “Murder in Old Bombay.” Set in 1892, “Murder in Old Bombay” delivers a gripping look at India’s ...

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