cover image Heart of the World

Heart of the World

Linda Barnes, . . St. Martin's Minotaur, $24.95 (321pp) ISBN 978-0-312-33287-7

Barnes's fast-paced 11th mystery (after 2004's Deep Pockets ) finds Boston PI Carlotta Carlyle involved in a deeply personal case: Paolina, a spunky teen whom Carlotta loves like a daughter, has disappeared. Paolina's mother, too busy with her new boyfriend and her latest hairdo to realize that Paolina might be in danger, is no help. Carlotta begins to suspect that Paolina didn't run away, but was kidnapped by her biological father, a Colombian drug lord known as Roldán. Finding Roldán, whom much of the world mistakenly believes is dead, is a challenge for even an expert sleuth like Carlotta; no one who knows the elusive kingpin's whereabouts is talking. Carlotta travels first to Miami, where she tracks down Roldán's erstwhile lawyer, and then to Bogotá. Barnes captures Carlotta's quest for Roldán and Paolina in taut, exciting prose. In a strong subplot, Sam, Carlotta's lover, proposes to her, but his mob ties make Carlotta hesitate. These connections culminate in an emotionally cliff-hanging ending that will leave readers waiting impatiently for the 12th installment of Carlotta's exploits. Author tour. (May)