karin slaughter has some good books, set in rural Georgia, USA, as well as a couple in Atlanta (Triptych is one of the best crime books I've read)
faye kellerman writes about a male detective in LA and his wife - Jewish family, but crimes only sometimes touch on the religious aspects. I like all her books, but think The Ritual Bath is her first - the most recent one is not the best to start with, as it's a bit weaker than the others
both good female crime writers. I also like the Denise Mina books about Paddy Meehan which are set in 80s Glasgow.
I've just finished reading Vanish by Tess Gerritsen. I thought it was ok but I'm sure the plot's been done before. I did like The Bone Garden and The Surgeon though. I would suggest The Host by Stephenie Meyer (Twilight author). This one's an adult book and it's very good.
forgot to add - Kathy Reichs - she writes about a female pathologist too, and her books are pretty good - although they are veering towards the 'one woman crusade against the world' the further the series gets. check amazon/wikipedia for the order of the books in each case milk!
have found a few karin slaughter books hidden ion the depths of our bookshelves...even the covers are a bit odd!!
am going to stick with crime for the time being
i tried reading tess gerritsens the apprentice and shopoholic and baby simutaniously...it was a weird thoughts when i was tired and couldnt remember what the hell i was reading at 11pm on the way home from work!!
but rest assured i will be back to collect more ideas!!
(as a newbie to mumsnet...(i use the childminder nanny section...as im a nanny) i LOVE it!!)