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Invisible Boy    by Cornelia Read order for
Invisible Boy
by Cornelia Read
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Invisible Boy, Cornelia Read continues her series starring ex-debutante Madeline Dare, a wisecracking investigator in the old style, whose previous 60s-flavored exploits readers enjoyed in A Field of Darkness and The Crazy School. Madeline and her inventor husband Dean have moved to New York City, where they share a Chelsea apartment with Madeline's sister Pagan and their mutual friend Sue. Madeline takes book-catalog phone orders while Dean sends out resumés and does odd carpentry jobs.

At a party, Maddie meets her ancestral cousin Cate Ludlam, who has organized volunteers to clear brush from a derelict family cemetery in Queens, 'the original burial ground for the village of Jamaica, starting in the sixteen hundreds.' Maddie decides to help. On her first stint at the cemetery, she finds the body of a three-year-old African American boy - and these are not old bones. She makes new friends of the investigator, Detective Skwarecki, and of the child's frail grandmother, who had tried and failed to rescue him. She also learns of abuse in her own family.

In parallel with the puzzle of who killed this regularly and brutally pummeled toddler - a puzzle that quickly turns into a courtroom drama in which Maddie and Cate are witnesses - someone tries to murder Madeline. She also makes contact with an old friend again, her Nutty Buddy (Dean's nickname), British/Florentine beauty Astrid. In boarding school, the duo ruled and had the whole world ahead of them. Now Astrid has married a Swiss importer (who gives Dean a job), but there's something very awry in her life. Madeline feels it's like 'watching somebody who really matters drifting out to sea, and I'm standing here on the beach doing nothing.'

Invisible Boy is a mix of mystery, courtroom drama and social commentary, enlivened by the heroine's wit - as when she comments that living in a studio apartment with her six-five hubbie 'would've felt like sharing a starter acquarium with Godzilla' - and attitude (that goes down much better in NY City than in the heartland). I look forward to more of Maddie Dare.

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