Patricia Hall, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $23.95 (251p) ISBN 978-0-312-28208-0

Last seen in 2001's Dead on Arrival, DCI Michael Thackeray again combines instinct with persistent investigation to work his way through a case in this smoothly written story. The Yorkshire cop travels to Oxford University, his alma mater, ostensibly to take a course in police work. In fact, he has been sent away from Bradfield during the investigation into the shooting of one of his detectives, for which he may bear some responsibility. Upon arriving at his old college of St. Frideswide's (aka Friddies), Thackeray is besieged with disquieting memories of his unhappy days there—and summoned by a former tutor, Hugh Greenaway, who asks Thackeray to look into the disappearance of a don named Mark Harrison. Harrison was an undergraduate with Thackeray, and he was a prime example of the kind of brutish snob that made Thackeray hate college. Nevertheless, Thackeray agrees to help Greenaway. He talks to Harrison's wife, Penny, and begins to question Magnus Partridge, a creepy old tutor who seems to have been at Friddies for most of its 500 years. While Penny will do anything to reveal the truth, Partridge—and, as our hero slowly discovers, most of the college—will do anything to protect Friddies' noble history. Back at Bradfield CID, Thackeray's underlings, detectives Val Ridley and Kevin Mower, are investigating the rape and beating of a young teenage girl, and mourning the dead detective, Rita Desai. The story moves easily between the two plotlines. Excellent pacing and nicely textured characters carry the reader along for a very pleasant ride. (Jan. 14)

Reviewed on: 12/24/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
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