THE WHITE CROW: A Beacon Hill Mystery

Cynthia Peale, Author . Doubleday $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-385-49638-4

This gaslight thriller, the third and last to feature the brother-and-sister team of Caroline and Addington Ames (after 2001's Murder at Bertram's Bower), delivers some notable frissons, even if it never quite embraces the supernatural. When Addington, a committed skeptic, asks William James his opinion of society medium Mrs. Sidgwick, the eminent psychologist replies: "Even if there were no other medium in the world who had her powers, she alone proves that such powers exist. I put it this way: If you seek to prove that all crows are not black, you need only one white crow. And Mrs. Sidgwick is my white crow." At a séance conducted by Mrs. Sidgwick, Caroline is anxious to make contact with her late mother. Alas, the spirit of Mrs. Ames proves elusive. When Mrs. Sidgwick succeeds in reaching the deceased wife of one of the other "querants," Theophilus Clay, a liberal philanthropist and one of the richest men in Boston, that worthy gentleman drops dead on the spot. After Addington proves Clay's death to be murder, Mrs. Sidgwick receives an ominous message reading "Ames next." The unsurprising denouement is somewhat disappointing, even conventional, after the beguilingly atmospheric buildup. The languid pace and frequent longueurs won't please more impatient, hot-blooded mystery fans, but those who care more for rich historical backdrop than the mechanics of crime-solving should be reasonably satisfied. (Mar. 19)

FYI:Peale is the pseudonym of novelist Nancy Zaroulis.

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 213 pages - 978-0-307-41669-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 336 pages - 978-0-440-23566-8
Open Ebook - 236 pages - 978-0-385-50542-0
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-440-61419-7
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