cover image Death in the Pines: An Oakley Tyler Novel

Death in the Pines: An Oakley Tyler Novel

Thom Hartmann. Academy Chicago, $30 (240p) ISBN 978-0-89733-749-6

Talk show host Hartmann (The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America—and What We Can Do to Stop It and other works of nonfiction) highlights his concerns about genetic engineering in his debut mystery, which suffers from a heavy-handed execution of its tired premise, clunky chunks of scientific exposition, and a lazy pace. Jeremiah Smith, an elderly forester, tries to persuade Oakley Tyler, an Atlanta PI who has retired to the Vermont woods, to find out who’s threatening his environmental reporter grandson, Jerry. Shortly after his visit to Oakley, Jeremiah is killed in a suspicious hit-and-run. Meanwhile, a mysterious buckskin-clad woman keeps appearing unbidden at Oakley’s cabin. A saccharine romanticism about Native American wisdom about the Earth and an attraction subplot that fails to go anywhere interesting don’t help. Though the subtitle suggests this is the first in a series, few will be tempted to return for another installment. Agency: Waterside Productions. (Jan.)