cover image A Small Sacrifice: A Jane Lawless Mystery

A Small Sacrifice: A Jane Lawless Mystery

Ellen Hart. Seal Press (CA), $20.95 (274pp) ISBN 978-1-878067-55-5

In the fifth superior Jane Lawless mystery, St. Paul theater director Cordelia Thorn and five old college chums from the '70's rally to help a sixth, alcoholic actress Diana Stanwood: they are going to visit Diana's new theater in Wisconsin and, with the help of a therapist, persuade Diana to enter a clinic. But, as Cordelia observes, ``something isn't right.'' Much of what's wrong swirls around Theo Donati, an enigmatic classmate who spent seven years in prison for impersonating an IRS agent back in college. He is the object of Diana's unexplained hostility; his presence sends a ripple through the shaky marriage of Curt and Annie Whittig (Theo and Curt were once lovers); and a barroom brawl erupts between him and former roommate Orson Albern. When Theo dies of apparently ``natural'' causes, Cordelia summons Jane to help investigate. Hart (A Killing Cure) sends Jane and Cordelia, who are lesbians but not lovers, through an absorbing plot that is driven by romantic and competitive connections that convincingly cross genders. A finale with a twist surprises while staying fully in keeping with what has gone before. (Oct.)