cover image The Hanged Man: A Joshua Croft Mystery

The Hanged Man: A Joshua Croft Mystery

Walter Satterthwait. St. Martin's Press, $19.95 (258pp) ISBN 978-0-312-09827-8

Santa Fe PI Joshua Croft gets a lively introduction to New Age spiritualism when defense attorney Sally Durrell hires him to investigate the murder of Quentin Bouvier, a practitioner of ``High Magic.'' During a gathering of healers and psychics at the home of Brad Freefall and Sylvia Morningstar, Quentin was coshed with a healing crystal and then strangled with a scarf belonging to Sally's client, Tarot card reader Giacomo Bernardi. Before the murder, Quentin had shown off his recently purchased, very valuable antique Tarot card, which is now missing. The newly widowed Justine takes the death calmly, perhaps because she believes that ``the essential Quentin'' remains, or perhaps because she's having an affair with ``spiritual alchemist'' Peter Jones. Another murder occurs as Joshua tries to divine the straight, this-world scoop from a cast that includes an astrologer and an ex-actress with a hotline to Alpha Centauri. Satterthwait ( A Flower in the Desert ) offers a neat surprise at the end of this entertaining adventure, but he also withholds clues and obscures some of the logic that leads to the resolution, a tactic some readers may find irksome. (Sept.)