1905. A young man called James Delaney is dying in a New York hospital. The doctors and the nuns cannot save him. When his life is spared his tycoon father takes it as a miracle and organizes a family pilgrimage to the resting place of the boy's name saint, Saint James the Greater in Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the greatest pilgrimage site of the Middle Ages.The first modern-day pilgrim is killed in Le Puy en Velay in Southern France and Powerscourt is summoned to investigate. The pilgrims' progress across the holy sites is punctuated by further bizarre deaths. After his own life is put in terrible danger Powerscourt finally solves the murders on the day of the Bull Run at Pamplona in Southern Spain where young men race down the cobbled streets pursued by the bulls. The careless are gored to death, but it is up to Powerscourt to beware of the horns and other hidden dangers to finally resolve the Deaths of the Pilgrims.
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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March 01, 2010
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