cover image The Summer Snow

The Summer Snow

Rebecca Pawel, . . Soho, $23 (328pp) ISBN 978-1-56947-408-2

Set in fascist Spain shortly after WWII, Edgar-winner Pawel's fourth mystery to feature Gardia lieutenant Carlos Tejada (after 2005's The Watcher in the Pine ) is a triumph of characterization, suspense and atmosphere. The suspicious death of Tejada's wealthy great-aunt, Doña Rosalia, in the city of Granada embroils him and his immediate family—small son Toño and wife Elena—in a case involving the implications of a missing will and the often inexplicable actions of his relatives. While the mystery itself captivates from both a historical and topical perspective, the book's complex characters are even more impressive. A remarkable sequence in which Tejada investigates his cousin Felipe is riveting, but as much for insight into Felipe as for its significance to the plot. Tejada remains fascinating for his suspect morality: a decent man who's also an apologist for a brutal regime. This beguiling novel will richly reward lovers of both mysteries and mainstream literary fiction. (Feb.)