Friday, October 19, 2012

The Prodigal Son-Colleen McCullough

The Prodigal Son

Colleen McCullough

Simon & Schuster, Nov 6 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9781451668759

In 1969 biochemist Dr. Millie Hunter informs her father Medical Examiner Dr. Patrick O’Donnell that someone stole tetrodotoxin blowfish extraction from their lab. John Hall traveled from Oregon to Holloman, Connecticut to claim his inheritance. At a family gala welcoming him, he dies from an injection of blowfish toxic extraction, a poison that kills almost instantly and leaves no trace. One day later the death of Professor Thomas Tarleton Tinkerman by poison occurs.

Holloman Police Captain Carmine Delmonico leads the investigation in which Millie’s husband Dr. Jim Hunter had the means and opportunities (to the victims and to the toxin) though he finds no motive. Carmine believes the husband of his second cousin is innocent. He looks at those who lost a fortune when Hall came to New England, the Chubbs University faculty members who gain with the professor’s death, and even a hate crime to destroy the black and white couple Millie and Jim. However, no one seems to have a motive that ties the murders of the scholar and the heir.

The latest Delmonico 1960s police procedural (see Naked Cruelty and Too Many Murders) is an engaging historical investigative tale. The set-up is strong as there are plenty of suspects, who may have committed one of the homicides, but none appear to have motive for multiple murders; however, the rationale once revealed seems weak at best. Still fans will enjoy this 1969 Connecticut mystery.

Harriet Klausner

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