cover image The Ambassador

The Ambassador

Peter Colt. Severn, $29.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4483-0767-8

It’s 1985 in Colt’s stellar fourth mystery featuring Boston gumshoe Andy Roark (after 2022’s Death at Fort Devens), and Gordon Stevenson, the former U.S. ambassador to Laos who during the Vietnam War presided over the secret military campaign in Laos, arranges to meet Roark, who served in Special Forces in Vietnam, at Boston’s Harvard Club, where the working-class Roark feels ill at ease (“I was most definitely not Harvard Club material”). Stevenson has been receiving death threats, apparently from someone who was in Special Forces. Despite his disgust at Stevenson’s role in the conflict, Roark agrees to help, motivated by a desire to prove that someone other than a former comrade-in-arms has been sending the threats. Colt plays with conventions of the subgenre; at one point, Roark explains why his wisecracks, unlike those of Rex Stout’s Archie Goodwin, fall on deaf ears. The page-turning story line, which includes Roark’s relevant memories of the Vietnam War, never flags, and the balance of plot and character is perfect. This continues to be a grittier alternative to Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. Agent: Cynthia Manson, Cynthia Manson Literary. (Feb.)