cover image Changelings


Jo Bannister. Minotaur Books, $23.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-312-26567-0

In Bannister's seventh superior police procedural set in the town of Castlemere (The Hireling's Tale, etc.), Det. Insp. Liz Graham and Supt. Frank Shapiro must scramble to identify a psychopath whose alarming hoaxesDtainting a yogurt container and a school water supply with jellyDindicate how easily he could do real harm to the entire community. Then a young man turns up at the local hospital with what appears to be cholera, contracted from a bottle of contaminated cough syrup. Frightened townsfolk start to panic. Meanwhile, Det. Sgt. Cal Donovan is on forced holiday, exploring local waterways in his houseboat with his dog and battling a nasty cold. When he disappears, his co-workers fear that he, too, has been infected with cholera. Instead, he has sought refuge in the little village of East Beckham, a community that had fought for its survival from a similar threat years earlierDand that is highly suspicious of outsiders, including Donovan. In this crowded ensemble, the author skillfully delineates the main characters: Shapiro through his wit, Graham through her ambition and drive and the loner Donovan through his captivation with a small, odd child. Lovers of police procedurals will appreciate the good detective work that relies on intellect as much as muscle power. A simple, atmospheric jacket design offers a perfect complement to the text. (Nov.)