Friday, February 20, 2009

Smoke & Whispers-Mick Herron

Smoke & Whispers
Mick Herron
Soho, Apr 2009, $25.00
ISBN 9781569475645

In Newcastle, England, a corpse is fished out of the River Tyne. Freelance publisher and Ostrich farmer Sarah Tucker identifies the corpse as her friend private investigator Zoe Boehm.

The police assume Zoe committed suicide, but Sarah takes exception to that conclusion as the woman had a zest for life. Instead she believes Zoe was murdered in a way to make it look like she took her life. With the police seemingly contented with their conclusion, Sarah considers her late friend’s inquiry into Alan Talmadge, who murdered middle-aged women but made their death appear to be an accident or a suicide. With the premise too coincidental, Sarah investigates who Talmadge is and if he killed ZoeThis probe makes her a target for suicide.

The key to this superb investigative thriller is the ostrich farmer who comes across as a rare legitimate amateur sleuth as Mick Herron “sells” Sarah as a detective with a motive. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Sarah identifies the corpse and never slows down as she makes inquiries into her late buddy’s last case, which puts a bulls-eye on her head. Although the climax can be seen clear across the Channel, SMOKE & WHISPERS is a fantastic English amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner