cover image Fear of Landing

Fear of Landing

David Waltner-Toews, . . Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (223pp) ISBN 978-1-59058-349-4

Set in the repressive Indonesia of the early 1980s, Waltner-Toews’s compelling debut introduces an unlikely detective, Canadian veterinarian Abner Dueck. Dueck’s investigation of the suspicious contents of a dead cow’s stomach appears to result in the deaths of two friends and puts the vet in the uncomfortable position of trying to find out who killed them in a country where asking questions can lead to a quick burial. The list of possible suspects is endless, from whoever is poisoning cattle with strychnine to Dueck’s own colleagues, skillfully characterized during a tour de force of a party scene. Constrained by threats to his life, Dueck never gets easy answers as he becomes enmeshed in a complex web of alliances and murder theories provided by people with their own interests at heart. Readers will be surprised to find descriptions of animal autopsies as intriguing as political schemes in this powerful and highly original portrait of a particular time and place. (Feb.)