Season of Sacrifice: A Maya Mallick Mystery

Bharti Kirchner. Severn, $28.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8724-5

PI Maya Mallick, the intriguing heroine of this uneven series launch set in Seattle from Kirchner (Goddess of Fire), has renounced her work as a nutrition consultant to join the India-based Detectives Unlimited of Kolkata as their first operative in the U.S. One bright morning, Maya is out for a stroll when she hears chanting and sees several people in white robes clustered around two women also draped in white, apparently protesting against China’s intervention in Tibet. As she watches in horror, a man in dark glasses hands each woman a match and—whoosh—they go up in flames. Though only their eyes were visible, Maya is certain that she knew one of the women: a scientist researching a vaccine for malaria. After this dramatic incident, Maya is determined to find out why these two women chose to take their own lives. Kirchner puts an original spin on motive, but the villain’s elaborate plot has too many logic holes. Readers will look forward to seeing more of the astute Maya, but they’ll hope she’ll be matched by more worthy adversaries. Agent: Priya Doraswamy, Lotus Lane Literary. (Sept.)