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BABEL: A Kathy and Brock Mystery

Barry Maitland, Author . Arcade $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-55970-668-1

Healed in body if not in spirit after the trauma of her last case (2002's Silvermeadow), Det. Sergeant Kathy Kolla is thinking of quitting Scotland Yard when murder intervenes in Maitland's assured fifth entry in this popular series. The shooting death of philosophy professor Max Springer on his London university campus in broad daylight is caught on security tape and witnessed by several bystanders. Since all the signs point to Islamic extremists, DCI David Brock fears his investigation will trigger accusations of police racism. He needs Kathy's particular style of interviewing, and she's unable to say no. As Kathy and Brock look into a longstanding enmity between Springer and Richard Haygill, director of a semi-autonomous unit at the university whose research on gene therapy is funded by Middle Eastern agents, they're led even deeper into the shadows of London's Muslim community. It will come as no surprise to the author's fans that the case is infinitely more complex than it first seems, and that serious questions of personal morality flow beneath the action. The issues the book raises are especially compelling given that it was written before 9/11, which makes its thoughtful presentation of simmering antagonism between Westerners and Middle Easterners, between Muslims and Christians, eerily prophetic and all the more moving. (June)

FYI:Maitland has won the CWA of Australia's Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction for The Malcontenta.

Reviewed on: 05/05/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
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