cover image Slim Chance

Slim Chance

Peter Helton, . . Carroll & Graf, $25 (270pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-1742-2

Lively prose and a vivid picture of the ancient English city of Bath—in particular, its vaults, tunnels, bunkers and cellars—lift Helton's second mystery to feature artist and PI Chris Honeysett (after 2005's Headcase ). Fans of Jonathan Gash's Lovejoy will appreciate the scheme that Honeysett, who's a bit of a scalawag, concocts to handle an insurance payoff to art thieves—and the connections Honeysett has to some bohemian characters. A sadistic killer has already struck once in Bath and has kidnapped a second victim. When our hero, embarked on a completely different task, stumbles on the killer's lair, the killer seeks vengeance on Honeysett by making one of the artist's companions his third victim. Honeysett and his allies must play a deadly game to keep their friend alive while they seek the killer's new hiding place. Meanwhile, the thieves Honeysett conned also want a piece of him. Readers will look forward to further installments in this offbeat series. (July)