cover image Prove the Nameless

Prove the Nameless

Terence Faherty. St. Martin's Press, $22.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-14706-8

Owen Keane, the philosophical and mildly alienated seminary dropout seen before in The Lost Keats and Deadstick, is working as a newspaper copy editor on the New Jersey coast. His interest is captured by an anniversary story about the unsolved murder of a local family 20 years ago that left a young girl orphaned, a cop obsessed, and now provides just the kind of lost cause Keane thrives on. At the time, there were three likely suspects: the dead dad's business partner with mob connections, a hippie guru of a nearby religious compound and a down-on-his-luck local handyman. But in the following decades the handyman died, the partner committed suicide and the guru vanished. The surviving girl is now grown up and wants the case reopened. The partner's widow claims to possess valuable evidence. The girl's insistence soon leads to another murder. Faherty toggles among his trio of suspects and expertly manipulates several subplots that explore guilt and obsession. The resolution is efficiently rendered and makes good sense--until the author turns the screw once too often. Obsession is turned into a warped sense of identity, and the hunter is fused with the murderer in a less than convincing final twist that doesn't entirely spoil what's gone before, but diminishes its impact. (Oct.)