1905. A pilgrim is killed in Le Puy en Velay, France, and Powerscourt is summoned to investigate. More deaths plague pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Powerscourt's own life is put in danger before he solves the murders.
Set in France in 1906, Dickinson's eighth Lord Powerscourt investigation (after 2008's Death on the Holy Mountain) visits Agatha Christie terrain with limited success. When Englishman John Delaney dies on a family pilgrimage organized by his unscrupulous American cousin, magnate Michael Delaney (who once bought all the copies of a book that labeled him a robber baron), Powerscourt concludes that John was murdered, but the aristocrat's deductions concerning the person responsible don't come in time to prevent further deaths. Indeed, the killer continues his mysterious vendetta against the Delaney family, racking up an impressive body count. The mechanical unmasking of the culprit and the stock ending aren't up to the author's usual high standard. Hopefully, Dickinson, who has a real gift for evoking period and creating well-rounded characters, will come up with a stronger story line next time. (Mar.)
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February 28, 2010
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