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Recommended by Neil Nyren

If you haven’t read Denise Mina yet, now’s the time. Over the past 25 years, she’s written a torrent of books, both series and standalones, featuring a host of strong, complicated characters in her native Scotland: policewomen, reporters, citizen detectives, and more. They’re uniformly excellent.

Two years ago, she dipped into history with a novella called Rizzio, the story of the night the private secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots was assassinated in the Queen’s own chambers, stabbed fifty-six times by a group of men Mary had thought she could trust. The gathering menace, her dawning realization, the graphic deed itself—it’s a hair-raising tale.

And this August, she’s given us an audacious double act. For Pegasus, she’s written another historical novella called THREE FIRES, about the brutal rise and fall of the puritanical Dominican friar Savonarola in fifteenth-century Florence. For a time, his inflammatory teachings ruled the city, culminating in the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities (yes, the source of Tom Wolfe’s title). It’s both an extraordinary feat of story-telling and something more—a startling ending shows just how scarily contemporary this account is.

And the second book? Something else entirely: a new Raymond Chandler novel! The Chandler estate has hired other writers before to re-create Philip Marlowe, but none of them has been a woman, and Mina grabs the opportunity with both hands. It’s a great case: dark, smart, tricky, and at once true to the source and eminently its own. It’s called THE SECOND MURDERER, it’s from Mulholland, and it should be on every noir fan’s TBR list.

Happy reading!

—Neil Nyren, Ellery Queen Award-winning Editor