cover image The Mandeville Talent

The Mandeville Talent

George V. Higgins. Henry Holt & Company, $19.45 (278pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-1412-9

Higgins's ( The Friends of Eddie Coyle ) own talent is nowhere in evidence in this mind-deadening story, mainly a collection of depositions concerning a 23-year-old unsolved murder in Goshen, Mass. When the granddaughter of murder victim James Mandeville is offered a teaching post at Mount Holyoke, her husband, Joe, a young lawyer in a big Manhattan firm, grabs the chance to resign from the corporate rat race, solve the old murder case and set up private practice in the Berkshires. The local law can't help (for diverse reasons) and sends him to retired Defense Department investigator Baldad (``Baldo'') Ianucci, who is bored and looking for something to do. Readers soon feel the same way as they slog through the endless, bland monologues that Joe and Baldo's interviews generate. An interesting question of legal culpability in land speculation involving an order of priests and the mob gets buried in the convoluted prose. (Sept.)