FATAL REMAINS: A Marti MacAlister Mystery

Eleanor Taylor Bland, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $23.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-30097-5

African-American police detective Marti MacAlister is used to "simple" murders, not ones whose roots are as old and entwined with history as those she encounters in Bland's 11th meaty mystery (after 2002's Windy City Dying ). Set in Lincoln Prairie, Ill., home to Potawatomi Indians, past and present, and to an early settler, Idbash Smith, who was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, the story has a supernatural element that only mildly distracts amid the otherwise realistic crime-solving. When Marti and partner Matthew "Vik" Jessenovik look into the death of a young archeologist working alone at a site on the vast estate of Josiah Smith, they discover an odd history of accidents, most involving members of the Smith family. An aging black Jewish convert tracing his lineage from slavery to freedom and an unidentified Native-American body provide other threads that will take Marti into uncharted areas for an urban homicide investigation. Patience and persistence are the keys to the solution as Marti and Vik uncover the ghosts of the past literally and figuratively. This is a strong addition to a strong series, with a delightful kick of an ending. (Dec. 8)

Reviewed on: 10/06/2003
Release date: 12/01/2003
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