cover image Some Deaths Before Dying

Some Deaths Before Dying

Peter Dickinson. Mysterious Press, $27 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-696-7

His first mystery in five years gives ample evidence that Dickinson, an award-winning storyteller whose first novel was published in 1968, can still entrance readers with superbly drawn tales. He knows how to construct an atmospheric English country house mystery as do few other contemporary writers, and he can build a complex plot as skillfully as ever. An old woman, Rachel Matson, is paralyzed and slowly dying, but the mind inside her wasted body is as sharp as ever. She discovers one day that one of a pair of antique dueling pistols, which she had given her late husband, is missing. Her husband had been the colonel of an army regiment that was taken prisoner by the Japanese in WWII and used as slave labor. The men who survived the war have forged strong bonds, and their lives remain intertwined. Before her illness, Rachel had chronicled her life and her marriage in photographs; she was an artist who documented the reality around her. Now she must use her old photographs and her observational skills to discover why the pistol is missing and how its disappearance may connect to a secret that has been hidden for many years. Dickinson has long been known for creating subtle and meticulously detailed portraits of eccentric characters. In this novel, he depicts a family possessing courage, talent and wealth, but whose members are obsessed with an old crime that has haunted their lives. This beautifully crafted and highly original English mystery should bring new fans to an exceptional writer. (June)