cover image Play Dead

Play Dead

Peter Dickinson. Mysterious Press, $17.95 (282pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-478-9

Like music lovers listening to a favorite piece conducted by a master, mystery fans will relish Dickinson's ( Skin Deep ) complicated puzzler with its beautifully realized cast. Poppy Tasker, a game and warm-hearted 50-year-old divorcee searching for a life on her own, agrees to baby-sit for her toddler grandson Toby while her Labour Party daughter-in-law pursues a seat in Parliament from their London district. A young man observed watching Toby's play group in the park angers Poppy and the nannies; he is also seen outside Poppy's house the night she comes home with one of the other tots' fathers--a Romanian national whom she met at a concert. When the young man is found murdered in the play center, the nannies come under suspicion, much to Poppy's resentment; meanwhile, as the revolution in Romania looms, she wonders about the involvement of her friend there and in developments closer to home, which come to include the killing of one of the nannies. In the process of untangling a knot of credible coincidence and complex motivation, she also finds fresh direction and a new companion. Mystery Guild alternate. (Mar.)