cover image The Dark

The Dark

Carrie Brown. St. Martin's Press, $21 (279pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11769-6

Former university professor Lindy Adair lives peacefully on 180 acres in Washington State formerly occupied by the Sunstrike commune. One morning, a teenager stumbles past her house, blinded by moonshine he and some friends made with a still on Lindy's property. Lindy is horrified to learn that one of the boys has died-and that she may be legally responsible. She may lose her cherished land unless she can prove she had no knowledge of the still and can find whoever taught the youths to use it. The case gains urgency when the grandfather of one of the boys is murdered. Police detective Dan Richison, new in town, teams up with Lindy, partly to speed up the investigation and partly to keep an eye on her; she's a prime suspect, not least because her concern for those she questions seems to overshadow her worry over her own predicament. Unraveling intricate motives and acts with an effective, low-key investigative style, the complex Lindy is oddly appealing: analytical and independent, yet compassionate and accepting. Brown's mystery debut closes with a coda suggesting further, welcome collaborations of Lindy Adair and Dan Richison. (Apr.)