In Hosp's lackluster second novel (after 2005's Dark Harbor), Darius Train and Jack Cassian, a mismatched pair of D.C. detectives, investigate the throat-slashing murder of Washington Post reporter Elizabeth Creay. The fortuitous crime-scene find of a cigarette lighter with a clear fingerprint leads the detectives to local drug dealer Jerome Washington. It's a tidy but far too convenient arrest. The commissioner of police is upset when Train and Cassian move on to a number of other suspects, some of them highly placed among the city's powerful ruling class. The heart of the murder may lie in the history of the American eugenics movement, "the science of controlling the gene pool-improving it, in theory-through selective breeding." The uncovering of long-buried secret experiments at the Virginia Juvenile Institute for the Mentally Defective, a state facility where thousands of people were once sterilized, results in more murders. The denouement is so murky that baffled readers will find themselves scratching their heads in dismay. 6-city author tour. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Hosp delivers another satisfying mystery, living up to the promise of his first novel, Dark Harbor. This time he tells the story of Sydney Chapin, who returns to Washington to be closer to her family only to learn that her sister, Elizabeth, has been brutally murdered. Raised by a hugely wealthy family, the sisters had chosen to lead independent lives, Sydney attending law school and Elizabeth working as a reporter. Elizabeth's murder at first appears to have resulted from a break-in by a druggie looking for cash, but its true nature suggests itself after Sydney speaks to people Elizabeth saw during her final days. For help, Sydney turns to the detectives investigating the murder, but the true murderer seems always to be one step ahead of them. As the plot unfolds, the suspects range from a drug-dealing ex-convict to a presidential hopeful. Amid the political pressures of Washington, nothing is what it seems, and readers are left guessing until the very end unless they've read Hosp's first novel and already know to expect the un-expected! [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 3/1/06.] Lisa O'Hara, Univ. of Manitoba Libs., Winnipeg Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.