by Matt Lubbers-Moore
February! The month of love and romance! This article is about none of those things! We are about death, destruction, and mystery! Of course, mysteries are not without some kind of romance.
That makes me think of a lot of romance writers who wish to join one of the Facebook groups that I manage that attempt to try and get their book advertisements in the group by stating that the book is mysterious or suspenseful. When reading the blurbs, I discover that the books are either about a mysterious stranger coming to the village, and then ultimately falls in love with the main character or a suspenseful do they/don’t they get together scenario. Neither falls within the scope of the Facebook group, but I give them an A for effort.
On with the upcoming releases!
Endpapers by Jennifer Savran Kelly
Out Feb. 7, 2023, Algonquin Books
It’s 2003, and artist Dawn Levit is stuck. As a bookbinder who works in conservation at the Met, she spends her free time scouting the city’s street art hoping something might spark inspiration. Instead, everything looks like a dead end. Wherever she turns, her gender identity clashes with the rest of her life. Her relationship, once anchored by shared queerness, is falling apart as her boyfriend Lukas increasingly seems to be attracted to Dawn only when she’s at her most masculine. At work, Dawn has to present as female, even on the days when that isn’t true. Then, one day at work, Dawn finds something hidden behind the endpaper of an old book: the torn-off cover of a ‘50s lesbian pulp novel, Turn Her About. On the front is a campy illustration of a woman looking into a handheld mirror and seeing a man’s face, and on the back is a love letter. Dawn becomes obsessed with tracking down the note’s author.
Such Pretty Flowers by K. L. Cerra
Out Feb. 7, 2023, Bantam
“Get it out of me.” It was the last message Holly received from her brother, Dane, before he was found cleaved open in the lavish Savannah townhouse of his girlfriend, Maura. Police ruled his death a suicide sparked by psychosis, but Holly can’t shake the idea that something else must have happened — something involving another message he sent earlier that night about a “game” Maura wanted to play. Determined to discover the truth, Holly begins to stalk Maura, a magnetic, black-eyed florist with a penchant for carnivorous plants. But what begins as an investigation quickly veers into a fixation that lures Holly into the depths of Maura’s world: Savannah high society, eerie black roses, and a whisper of something more sinister. Soon Holly is feeling a dark attraction to the one woman she shouldn’t trust.
Up With the Sun by Thomas Mallon
Out Feb. 7, 2023, Knopf
Dick Kallman was an up-and-coming actor in the fifties and sixties — until he wasn’t. A costar on Broadway, a member of Lucille Ball’s historic Desilu workshop, and finally a primetime TV actor, Dick had hustled to get his big break. But just as soon as his star began to rise, his roles began to dry up and he faded from the spotlight, his name out of tabloids and newspapers until his sensational murder in 1980. Through the eyes of his occasional pianist and longtime acquaintance Matt Liannetto, a tenderhearted but wry observer often on the fringes of Broadway’s big moments, Kallman’s life and death come into appallingly sharp focus.
Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist
Out Feb. 21, 2023, Dutton
Med school dropout Lena is desperate for a job, any job, to help her parents who are approaching bankruptcy after her father was injured and laid off nearly simultaneously. So when she is offered a position, against all odds, working for one of Boston’s most elite families, the illustrious and secretive Verdeaus, she knows she must accept — no matter how bizarre the interview or how vague the job description. By day, she is assistant to the family doctor and his charge, Jonathan, the sickly, poetic, drunken heir to the family empire, who is as difficult as his illness is mysterious. By night, Lena discovers the more sinister side of the family, as she works overtime at their lavish parties, helping to hide their self-destructive tendencies … and trying not to fall for Jonathan’s alluring sister, Audrey. But when she stumbles upon the knowledge that the Verdeau patriarch is the one responsible for the ruin of her own family, Lena vows to get revenge: a poison-filled quest that leads her further into this hedonistic world than she ever bargained for, forcing her to decide how much, and whom, she’s willing to sacrifice for payback.
Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy
Out Feb. 21, 2023, Gillian Flynn Books
When Saint Sebastian’s School becomes the target of a shocking arson spree, the Sisters of the Sublime Blood and their surrounding community are thrust into chaos. Unsatisfied with the officials’ response, sardonic and headstrong Sister Holiday becomes determined to unveil the mysterious attacker herself and return her home and sanctuary to its former peace. Her investigation leads down a twisty path of suspicion and secrets in the sticky, oppressive New Orleans heat, turning her against colleagues, students, and even fellow Sisters along the way.
The House that Whispers by Lin Thompson
Out Feb. 28, 2023, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Eleven-year-old Simon and his siblings, Talia and Rose, are staying the week at Nanaleen’s century-old house. This time, though, it’s not their usual summer vacation trip. In fact, everything’s different. It’s fall, not summer. Mom and Dad are staying behind to have a “talk.” And Nanaleen’s house smells weird, plus she keeps forgetting things. And these aren’t the only things getting under Simon’s skin: He’s the only one who knows that his name is Simon, and that he and him pronouns are starting to feel right. But he’s not ready to add to the changes that are already in motion in his family. To make matters worse, Simon keeps hearing a scratching in the walls, and shadows are beginning to build in the corners. He can’t shake the feeling that something is deeply wrong … and he’s determined to get to the bottom of it.
I’ll Take Everything You Have by James Klise
Out Feb. 28, 2023, Algonquin Young Readers
In the summer of 1934, Joe Garbe arrives in Chicago with one goal: earn enough money to get out of debt and save the family farm. Joe’s cousin sets him up with a hotel job, then proposes a sketchy scheme to make a lot more money fast. While running his con, Joe finds himself splitting time between Eddie, a handsome flirt on a delivery truck, and Raymond, a carefree rich kid who shows Joe the eye-opening queer life around every corner of the big city. Joe’s exposure to the surface of criminal Chicago pulls him into something darker than he could have imagined. When danger closes in — from gangsters, the police, and people he thought were friends — Joe needs to pack up and get lost. But before he can figure out where to go, he has to decide who he wants to be.
Sins of the Black Flamingo by Andrew Wheeler
Out Feb. 28, 2023,Image Comics
Sebastian Harlow is the Black Flamingo, a flamboyant and narcissistic thief who gets his kicks stealing mystic artifacts from the wealthy and corrupt of Miami’s occult underground. When his latest job leads him to his biggest score so far, the hedonistic outlaw discovers something he wasn’t looking for: something to believe in.
Poisoned on Valentine’s Day by Daisy Landish; out Feb. 1, 2023
Heart of Murder by Edale Lane; out Feb. 1, 2023
Dress the Neck Becomingly by Emmaline Strange; out Feb. 3, 2023
Dark Vows by J. S. Cook; out Feb. 14, 2023
Dearly and Vain Valentino by L. A. Kaye; out Feb. 19, 2023
Endless Night by J. R. Gray; out Feb. 28, 2023
His Brutal Heart by Leighton Greene; out Feb. 28, 2023
Liar City by Allie Therin; out Feb. 28, 2023
Two Hundred Bones by Meg Perry; out end of February
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.