cover image Rainstone Fall

Rainstone Fall

Peter Helton, . . Soho Constable, $25 (269pp) ISBN 978-1-56947-525-6

PI and painter Chris Honeysett combs the English spa town of Bath at the insistence of a mysterious caller, who claims to have kidnapped a 15-year-old boy, in Helton's gripping third mystery (after 2006's Slim Chance ). The kidnapper, aware of Honeysett's sleuthing abilities, demands he commit a series of burglaries to save the boy from death or mutilation. Complicating matters are the dead body that turns up in Honeysett's stolen car and a “witch” who lives in a crumbling caravan surrounded by springs and gardens of herbs. Helton takes what could have been a cliché in lesser hands, the wounded good guy who must break the law to uphold justice, and makes him credible. Also vividly portrayed are Honeysett's associates, fellow painter Annis Jordan and reformed safecracker Tim Bigwood, with whom he shares an old barn that doubles as an art studio and their detective agency headquarters. Shabby genteel Bath during the soggy autumn season serves as a memorable setting. (Sept.)