cover image CAVALCADE


Walter Satterthwait, . . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne, $23.95 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-312-33974-6

Set in 1923, Satterthwait's third mystery featuring Pinkerton agents Jane Turner and Phil Beaumont doesn't work as well as its predecessors (Escapade and Masquerade ), in part because the subject matter, an investigation into a failed attempt on the life of a young Adolf Hitler, clashes with Beaumont's witty asides and the burgeoning romance between the two sleuths. The couple travel to Germany after a shot is fired at Hitler during a clandestine meeting between the Nazi leader and a prominent army figure in Berlin, but the myriad plots and counterplots, as well as the official police inquiry, only muddy the waters. Turner finds herself falling for a purported psychic, while Nazi Party figures bombard Beaumont with evidence pointing to a Communist plot. Despite the impressive history reading list Satterthwait cites in the acknowledgments, his Führer is underdeveloped and too close to a caricature. The solution comes as an anticlimactic afterthought. (Those seeking a better-plotted and more atmospheric mystery involving Nazis should seek out Darwin Teilhet's gripping The Talking Sparrow Murders .) Though Turner is less well-developed than her partner, they make an engaging pair who would be better served by a return to adventures with historical figures such as Hemingway and Houdini. (Feb. 10)

FYI: Satterthwait has won both Shamus and Agatha Awards .