, February 11, 2007
(view all comments by sean.scott)
I picked this up at my library because I like these mysteries that have a bit of an intellectual conceit, such as the art-historical mysteries of Iain Pears, and it looked like a reasonable way to pass 2-3 hours. And it was. The plot didn't have many twists, and the resolution was not terribly surprising, but the characters and pacing more than made up for any weaknesses as a genre piece.
So I looked to see what other books Peterson had, and found just one thing, from 1980, that might or might not have even been the same Peterson. This one was first published in 1992, but not published in paperback until Worldwide (the mystery division of Harlequin) picked it up in 1997, and apparently not re-published since then.
Plenty of authors write a book or two but fall into, or remain in, obscurity, but there's something more poignant about it when the writer is clearly smart and talented. The book could have had a wide appeal: there are planty of other academic-themed mystery series, the characters display nuanced twists on the stock figures of the genre, the book has no present-tense violence (just discovered victims) and little profanity -- making it more appealing to tamer mystery fans -- yet is free from cats, aged amateur sleuths, and other elements that turn off fans of more serious mysteries.
Maybe there's no mystery or tragedy. Maybe he had an idea for a book and got it out of his system. Maybe, as my ex-wife pointed out, he might have been single when he wrote the book and then got married and wanted to spend time with his family, or maybe he got a more demanding or satisfying job. Pretty good book, though.