cover image A Dead Man in Malta

A Dead Man in Malta

Michael Pearce, Soho Constable, $25 (240p) ISBN 978-1-56947-878-3

Set in 1913, Pearce's thin seventh mystery to feature Scotland Yard's Sandor Seymour (after 2009's A Dead Man in Naples) opens with an intriguing puzzle. Seymour, a troubleshooter routinely dispatched across Europe to handle sensitive inquiries, looks into three suspicious deaths on the island of Malta—two British sailors and a German balloonist have expired after being admitted in good health to a British naval hospital. The aviator, Kiesewetter, entered the hospital for observation after his hot-air balloon landed unexpectedly. Witness reports that an unknown person was seen bending over the supine body of one of the sailors shortly before the sailor's demise add to concerns that a murderer might have been at work. Unengaging scenes between Seymour and his love interest as well as a denouement that doesn't fulfill the promise of the premise will disappoint fans of Pearce's superior Mamur Zapt series (The Mark of the Pasha, etc.). (Nov.)