BAD SEED: An Alex Bernier Mystery

Beth Saulnier, Author . Mysterious $23.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-89296-749-0

An engaging if overly familiar narrative voice barely compensates for lackluster detective work in Saulnier's (The Fourth Wall) fourth mystery to feature reporter Alex Bernier, here making her hardcover debut. In the funky upstate New York college town of Gabriel, Alex's short-staffed newspaper assigns her to a controversy over genetically modified food. Sophisticated outside activists have joined local environmental groups to protest the work of star researcher Kate Barnett. Following a heated public debate, explosions rip through two university greenhouses, killing a vice-president and maiming several students. The charismatic Barnett, however, nurtures a passionate faith in the potential of using bioengineered foods to end world hunger, and she has garnered a cultlike following among her students and colleagues. Alex, too, is charmed by this exemplary woman—until she finds Barnett brutally murdered. Barnett is posthumously elevated to the status of a martyr, of whom no one will speak ill, but Alex is compelled to probe this woman's motivations, charting her relationships with family and students and tracking down some surprising enemies. The issues here are weighty, but generic secondary characters and Alex's mocking tone undercut a serious treatment of the topic. In the end, some unsupported lucky guessing and confessions rather than actual deductions lead to the solution. Yet Alex's wry take on the town, the college scene and the mix of camaraderie and competition among fellow reporters offer some rewards. Mystery Guild featured alternate. Agent, James Vines. (Feb. 13)

Reviewed on: 01/14/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-0-7595-2688-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 432 pages - 978-0-446-61206-7
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