cover image Next of Kin

Next of Kin

John Boyne, . . St. Martin?s/Dunne, $24.95 (362pp) ISBN 978-0-312-35797-9

Set in 1936, this well-plotted thriller from Irish author Boyne (Crippen ) links the fates of two flawed young Englishmen with that of their king—who’s soon to give up the throne for love—in a cat’s cradle of theft, blackmail and murder. Hedonistic Gareth Bentley stubbornly refuses to pursue a respectable career, to his lawyer father’s dismay, while the embittered Owen Montignac, who’s been cut out of his late uncle’s will, must come up with £50,000 by year’s end to pay off a gambling debt—or pay the consequences. When Gareth winds up framed for murder, Gareth’s parents, the book’s most sympathetic characters, wrestle with their consciences, fearful that the other may learn just how far he or she would compromise his or her principles to save their son. The occasional anachronism jars (“plastic chairs” in a prison visitors area), but fans of JacquelineWinspear and David Roberts will be well rewarded. (Feb.)