Last Chants: A Willa Jansson Mystery

Lia Matera, Author Simon & Schuster $21 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-81085-0
Matera's skills make an accomplished, compelling mystery of material that could have been a lightweight, New Age yarn. En route to a new job in downtown San Francisco, lawyer Willa Jansson, last seen in the Edgar-nominated Prior Convictions, is appalled to spot an old family friend, elderly professor Arthur Kenna, holding a man at gunpoint. Rather than leave Arthur to the mercy of the police, Willa pretends that Arthur has taken her hostage, grabs him and hares off to hide him out near Santa Cruz, in the mountain cabin of a friend, PI Edward Hershey. Arthur is as baffled by Willa's actions as he was by the stranger who thrust the gun at him and began yelling ""`help,"" but he knows exactly what to do in the nearby woods: visit Bowl Rock, where his assistant, shaman Billy Seawuit was ""practically disemboweled"" only days earlier. While Arthur, an ethnobotanist and mythologist, internally visits other worlds to learn more about Billy's fate, Willa and Edward scope out a variety of strange characters: Galen Nelson, who reportedly brought Billy to the area to help develop a computer program meant ""to access nonordinary states""; Toni, Galen's volatile wife; and a naked, reed-playing gentleman who roams the forest and eloquently tells the tale of the Greek demigod Pan. Although neither internal nor external investigation prevents a second murder, Willa experiences a mind-expanding week in which she learns that life can be much more complex and much simpler than she ever thought. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1996
Release date: 06/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-4165-6769-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 10 pages - 978-0-671-88096-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56431-196-2
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4767-3760-7
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