cover image Peter Pan Must Die

Peter Pan Must Die

John Verdon. Crown, $25 (448p) ISBN 978-0-385-34840-9

Nero Award finalist Verdon combines a brilliant puzzle and psychological insight into his sleuth, Dave Gurney, in the stellar fourth novel featuring the retired NYPD homicide detective (after 2012’s Let the Devil Sleep). Much to the dismay of Gurney’s wife, he agrees to work on another case instead of relaxing at the couple’s upstate New York property. Jack Hardwick, who lost his job with the state police after helping Gurney in the previous book, asks the detective to help overturn a murder conviction. Kay Spalter was convicted of shooting to death her husband, Carl, a gubernatorial candidate running on an anti-Mafia platform, at his mother’s funeral, but some people think she was framed. Hardwick wants Gurney simply to identify irregularities in the investigation so as to make an appeal successful, but the only way Gurney knows how to do that is to find the truth. The plot is full of Verdon’s usual challenges (e.g., it was apparently impossible for the murder to have been carried out), but the cleverness is surpassed by the probing analysis of what makes Gurney tick. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Agency. (July)