cover image Chain Reaction: A Lucinda Pierce Mystery

Chain Reaction: A Lucinda Pierce Mystery

Diane Fanning. Severn, $28.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8341-4

Fanning’s seventh Lucinda Pierce mystery (after 2013’s Wrong Turn) finds the Virginia homicide investigator as touchy and driven as ever. When a bomb explodes at Woodrow Wilson High School, killing a janitor and a student, competing agencies investigate—the FBI, in the person of Pierce’s boyfriend, Jake Lovett, plus ATF and Homeland Security. Pierce doubts the bombing is terrorism related, but hers is not a popular opinion. Pierce is a strong lead, often likable and always interesting, but the racial attitudes of other characters may make some readers uncomfortable: one of the feds is so hysterical on the subject of Muslim terrorists that he has a nervous breakdown; Pierce’s black sergeant wants (white) backup before talking to a certain source; and a mixed-race teenager introduces his dark-skinned mother as the maid. This may be just a reflection of life in the New South, but it feels like a lot of heavy-duty stuff grafted onto the story. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel & Goderich. (Mar.)