cover image A Line in the Sand

A Line in the Sand

Kevin Powers. Little, Brown, $29 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-50712-7

In this uneven but eminently readable crime thriller from Powers (The Yellow Birds), Norfolk, Va., detective Catherine Wheel is called in to investigate after Iraq war interpreter-turned-janitor Arman Bajalan discovers a dead body during an early-morning ocean swim. Catherine and her partner soon learn that Arman knew the victim during his time in Iraq, and is in the U.S. to seek refuge from a group that has already killed the rest of his family. As more bodies pile up and the investigation leads Wheel to a local journalist, the detective makes it her mission to protect Arman, who it appears might be the ultimate target. Powers generates a satisfying sense of suspense, and his strength lies in drawing fully realized characters, from the protagonists down to the support players. The prose, though, varies, ranging from refined to purple and unnatural (“Salus populi suprema lex esto,” proclaims one character, conveniently recalling a slice of high school Latin). Still, this is an enjoyable outing that will have readers hoping for future Wheel adventures. Agent: Peter Straus, RCW Literary. (May)