cover image The Scientology Murders: A Dead Detective Novel

The Scientology Murders: A Dead Detective Novel

William Heffernan. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-61775-535-4

Edgar-winner Heffernan’s ambitious if flawed sequel to 2010’s The Dead Detective offers an engaging critique of the Church of Scientology. Det. Harry Doyle tangles with the secretive church in Clearwater, Fla., its spiritual headquarters, after his adoptive father is shot and seriously wounded while trying to rescue a young Scientologist who was targeted by the office of church discipline, then later found dead. As Doyle investigates outside his jurisdiction and off the books, the body count climbs. The crimes give Heffernan a chance to explore the bizarre tenets of the faith, sometimes through overly explanatory dialogue. The dual-procedural approach that chronicles both the police pursuit and the moves of the villains highlights the cartoonish nastiness of senior church officials. A slapdash pursuit to a remote Alaskan town feels tacked on and contrived, though the good guys—Doyle; his detective partner, Vicky Stanopolis; and Clearwater police sergeant Max Abrams—remain entertaining and appealing throughout. Agent: Gloria Loomis, Watkins Loomis Agency. (Apr.)