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Peter Pan Must Die    by John Verdon order for
Peter Pan Must Die
by John Verdon
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Peter Pan Must Die is the fourth (following Let the Devil Sleep) of John Verdon's intricate outside-the-box puzzlers featuring retired homicide investigator Dave Gurney. Dave and his wife Madeleine live in a nineteenth century farmhouse in the Delaware County hills. Madeleine adores country life, but Dave needs a hobby - unfortunately he keeps getting embroiled in perilous investigations. Madeleine - and readers - are beginning to wonder if he has a death wish.

This time it's abrasive, cynical Jack Hardwick (who lost his job partly because of help he gave to Dave) who calls in a favor. Now a PI, he demands that Dave help him prove that Kay Spalter, convicted of killing her husband, is innocent. Carl Spalter, a wealthy and charismatic politician, was shot while giving the eulogy at his mother's funeral. He was left a vegetable and died halfway through his wife's trial. When Dave looks at trial DVDs, he's struck by the expression of utter horror in Carl Spalter's eyes, 'the recognition of a terrible truth'.

Dave quickly digs deep and comes up with proof that the chief investigator, Mick Klemper, was a dirty cop who suppressed key evidence and was involved with the dead man's daughter (who hated Kay and stood to inherit if she was out of the way). The puzzle he must solve this time is that 'the shot could not have been fired through the window through which it must have been fired'. He's done all that Jack wants from him but Dave is determined to find out who the killer was, and keeps looking. He finds out that a petite man (hence the title) was, and is involved. There are more deaths and threats against both Dave and Jack.

The trail eventually leads to an international assassin, with a reputation for doing the impossible, and singing while he does it. As Dave himself says, all of this makes 'a recipe for an interesting endgame.' And that's exactly what John Verdon delivers, with Dave and many others in great danger, and all the odds in his opponent's favor. Every time I read one of these thrillers, I find it hard to believe that the author can do it again, but he does, again and again. Highly recommended!

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