cover image Bloodstream


P. M. Carlson, Barbara Carlson. Atria Books, $20 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-671-76977-2

Set in eastern Indiana, this powerful mystery, featuring Deputy Marty Hopkins in her second appearance (after Gravestone), starts with the disappearance of a teenage boy and ends by connecting religious fanaticism of generations past to suffering and murder in the present. Johnny Donato was last seen near the riverside ruins of the New Concord community, a 19th-century sect with utopian ideals and a rigid devotion to celibacy. Leading efforts to restore New Concord, with the help of a church youth group, is developer Bob Rueger, who, Marty discovers, may have other than historical motives. After Johnny's mauled body is disgorged by the river, two more teens disappear, including Rueger's daughter. Other characters include the intriguing Strand sisters: Nysa, with the voice and looks of an angel; and Vickie, with the ``slouch of a girl who'd grown too tall.'' Also involved is a strange but convincing character named Tor, who prowls the riverbank naked, wearing a bull mask. As the river and the suspense rise to a crescendo, Marty endures watery danger of her own before solving this affecting puzzle. (June)