The Boy Who Shoots Crows

Randall Silvis. Berkley Prime Crime, $15 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-425-24346-6

When 12-year-old Jesse Rankin vanishes while out shooting crows in rural Cumberland County, Pa., at the start of this thoughtful character study, suspicion falls on an older boy, Dylan Hayes, a convenient scapegoat whose only fault is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sheriff Mark Gatesman interviews reclusive painter Charlotte Dunleavy, an attractive divorcée and well-to-do recent transplant from New York City, whose eyewitness testimony has damned Dylan and whose tragic past turns out to have a direct connection to the mystery confounding the people of Cumberland County. As Gatesman’s investigation falters, Silvis (In a Town Called Mundomuerto) dwells on Dunleavy’s claustrophobic inner emotional landscape. The final revelation appears with the slow inevitability of a glacier, inexorably grinding the characters beneath it. (Dec.)