cover image Grave Error

Grave Error

Roy Lewis, . . Carroll & Graf, $25 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-1695-1

At the start of Lewis's engaging 16th Arnold Landon mystery (after 2004's Headhunter ), the Northumberland archeologist testifies at a trial that turns on proving the authenticity of a Celtic cauldron. Landon's years of experience, however, can't stand up against the academic credentials of a dashing local professor, James MacLean, so the cauldron, which was stolen and sold on the international market, is condemned as a fake, and the dealer, Islwyn Evans, accused of stealing it, is allowed to go free. Landon is in disgrace, as is DCI Jack O'Connor, who had called in Landon as a witness for the prosecution and who shares the story's focus in a fairly successful shifting of narrative. In spite of three murders, there's surprisingly little suspense and the ending is somewhat uneventful. The book's strength lies in the relationships among the characters, notably the dynamics between Landon; his attractive boss, Karen Stannard; and her lovely, implacable assistant, Portia Tyrrel. (Feb.)