cover image Forty Whacks: A Brian Donodio Mystery

Forty Whacks: A Brian Donodio Mystery

Sheila Macgill-Callahan, Sheila Macgill Callahan. St. Martin's Press, $18.95 (198pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11362-9

When a modern Lizzie Borden is accused of murder in Fall River, Mass., retired professor Brian Donodio, first encountered in Death in a Far Country, comes to the aid of his former student. Liza Grossman Borden, a veterinarian at the Delaney Institute, devoted to succoring endangered species, was found beside the body of her best friend, philanthropist Abby Meyer, killed by multiple blows of an ax. While the press and the prosecutor have a field day, Brian mounts a search for the real killer, aided by flamboyant defense attorney Rebecca Betancourt Delgado, retained by the victim's family; Liza's brother, Ira, another veterinarian; and local Roman Catholic priest Dennis Duque, a childhood friend of Brian's. The ambitious president of a nearby college fallen on academic hard times, a male-bonding group, stolen black bears and an uncooperative police captain (who is also a Delaney Institute trustee) all provide clues to a tragedy rooted in previous generations. MacGill-Callahan writes a lively, literate tale full of drama and red herrings. (Nov.)