cover image In Camera

In Camera

Gerald Hammond. St. Martin's Press, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-06997-1

In this latest Keith Calder mystery (after A Brace of Skeet ), Hammond's hero, who owns a sport shop in the lowlands of Scotland, is interrupted during his slow season by the arrival of Robert Hall, a gunsmith in search of a job. Hall quit his previous position after overhearing his employer contracting to produce a rifle that can only be an assassination weapon. Who the victim will be and how to prevent the crime become the driving questions behind this original and immensely entertaining novel. Hammond, a kind of Dick Francis of the rod and gun set, eschews the obvious and keeps readers guessing. His protagonist is not a conventional PI but more in the mode of Sherlock Holmes or Nero Wolfe, a consulting detective who spends much of the time cerebrally sorting through clues. He is aided in his work by his daughter and her fiance, a local police sergeant. Also figuring prominently is Paul Cardinal, a retired L.A. cop from the antiterrorist squad who may not be what he seems. In the process of preventing the crime Calder drinks a fair amount of malt whiskey and manages to solve a centuries' old mystery involving Peter the Great, Scottish highwaymen and some rare, missing pistols and swords. It's all great fun, suffused with the rhythms of life in rural Scotland. Readers will feel that they can taste the wee drams downed by Calder and his compatriots as they pour forth more than clues. (Apr.)