Georgia's wild Cumberland Island is steeped in family secrets. When bedridden Hannah Hill dies just days after telling ex-intelligence agent Ben Reese about a disguised nighttime intruder, he suspects murder. Treading carefully around questions about mercy and human suffering, Ben pursues a tangle of motives and old mysteries---euthanasia, arson, poaching, and jealousy---between two great island families. 376 pages, softcover from Multnomah.
"Out of the Ruins" bristles with fascinating characters caught in satisfying complications--a masterpiece of suspense. Treading carefully around questions about mercy and human suffering, Ben Reese pursues a tangle of motives to old mysteries: euthanasia, arson, poaching, and jealousy.
In her fourth Ben Reese mystery, Edgar nominee Wright takes Ben away from
England and Scotland, the settings for the last two books, and deposits him on
unspoiled Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia. It's 1960, and
Cumberland faces an uncertain future as developers and park service scouts try
to convince key families to sell their property. Ben stumbles on the murder of
a bedridden MS patient-a murder that initially looks like a natural death by
pneumonia. But Ben (who learned all about biological agents in the third book,
Pursuit and Persuasion) is suspicious, since the victim left behind a
surprising will deeding the island to her niece rather than her avaricious
daughter. As Ben sifts through numerous red herrings, Wright tackles strong
ethical issues such as euthanasia, ecological responsibility and vengeance,
offering a religious message that's wonderfully subtle and thoughtful. She
also reveals something more of Ben's character; we discover what he did in
WWII that still gives him nightmares, and learn of the existence of a wartime
nemesis whom Ben believes should be brought to justice. Wright's writing style
can be abrupt, particularly when things get exciting. She leans heavily on
choppy sentences and tends to begin far too many of them with conjunctions.
However, this otherwise impeccable mystery manages to take conventional plot
devices-an isolated island, a startling will, a generations-old family
feud-and make them fresh. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.