cover image May the Wolf Die

May the Wolf Die

Elizabeth Heider. Penguin Books, $20 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-14-313818-1

Former Navy analyst Heider delivers an intricate and impressive debut about the killing of two American sailors in Italy. Nikki Serafino, an investigator for U.S. military police, has a day of sailing in Naples with her friend and fellow officer, Valerio, interrupted twice: first to rescue a woman left to drown by her abusive boyfriend, and then by the discovery of an unidentified corpse in the water. Then an American sailor is found shot dead on the outskirts of the city, and forensics reveal that the corpse in the water was boiled alive. The ensuing investigation plunges Nikki, Valerio, and the Italian police into a matrix of betrayals and back-room deals between the U.S. Navy and the camorra, a network of organized crime clans in Naples. Heider deepens the central mystery by fleshing out her heroes’ family lives and complicated relationships to both Naples and the American military; Nikki, in particular, jumps off the page, with her struggles as a woman in law enforcement vividly highlighted. Toss in a pulse-pounding climax, and Heider has a promising potential series on her hands. Agent: Sharon Pelletier, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (July)