cover image The Hidden Keys

The Hidden Keys

Andre Alexis. Coach House, $16.95 ISBN 978-1-55245-325-4

Giller Prize–winner Alexis (Fifteen Dogs, Childhood) brings sharp observation and emotional depth to the traditional quest narrative in this fine novel. Tancred Palmieri is a thief in present day Toronto with a chivalric code whose life is thrown out of whack when he meets rich, drug-addicted Willow Azarian. Willow quickly reveals the story of her father’s fortune and a secret puzzle left to his children. She then asks Tancred to help her steal the clues that her father bequeathed to each of her siblings so that they might find the treasure he has left behind. Tancred soon learns that not all quests are as simple as they seem at first. During his journey, he comes into contact with an assortment of strange but never unbelievable characters, including and an English taxidermist who’s adopted a German persona. In helping Willow, however, Tancred might just find himself coming up against the person who is closest to him—his best friend, Det. Daniel Mandelstahm. This gorgeously written, funny adventure tale will keep readers up finishing it while also quietly breaking their hearts with Alexis’s keen observations of people, kindness, and cruelty. (Oct.)