Celine is an elegant New York socialite in her 80s. She creates sculptures from dead animal bones and is a successful private investigator. Loosely basing the novel on the life of his own mother, Heller skillfully weaves the details of Celine's unlikely story into the tale of a woman's search for her missing father. The writing lushly describes the natural world. In contrast, the dialogue is crisp and precise. While the mystery is thoroughly satisfying, Celine's story is the fascinating heart that charmed and entranced me. Recommended By Kathi K., Powells.com
I'm a big fan of Peter Heller's book The Dog Stars, so when I heard he had a new novel coming out, I moved it to the top of my must-read list. And wow, it did not disappoint. Evoking beautiful Western scenery with an equally compelling story, it's the tale of a 68-year-old private eye and her husband, who set out to find a photographer who disappeared near Yellowstone National Park years earlier. Heller's descriptions of nature in autumn are lovely, and the slow burn of a mystery had me conflicted: I wanted to stop and savor the writing, but I also wanted to hurry up to find out what happened next! Recommended By Candice B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter, a luminous, masterful novel of suspense--the story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past.
Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela's father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed—that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed.Inspired by the life of Heller’s own remarkable mother, a chic and iconoclastic private eye, Celine is a deeply personal novel, a wildly engrossing story of family, privilege, and childhood loss. Combining the exquisite plotting and gorgeous evocation of nature that have become his hallmarks, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date.
“In this gorgeously wrought story—equal parts character study and mystery—a young woman asks Celine, a badass Brooklyn private eye, to investigate the death of her father, a nature photographer who may or may not have been mauled and eaten by bears in Yellowstone… Captivating.” Entertainment Weekly’s “The Must List: Top 10 Things We Love This Week” Grade: A-
“Heller impresses in this fine novel about parents and children and the secrets we try to keep from one another… The novel glows.” Marc Bojanowski, The New York Times Book Review
"Despite its intriguing premise, Heller’s (The Dog Stars) third novel is a missing persons mystery that never quite finds its mark. Celine, descended from the original governors of the Plymouth Colony, is a well heeled investigator—the “Prada PI”—whose age (68) is still well below her success rate (96). Gabriela hires her to look into the disappearance of Gabriela’s father a famous nature photographer who years ago was presumed dead after a grizzly attack just outside of Yellowstone National Park. Agreeing with Gabriela that the death appeared staged, Celine and her husband Pete, retired and almost as resourceful as his wife, head out West. The plucky Celine has her charms, but other characters—such as Elbie Chicksaw, the Montana tracker who studied comparative literature at Dartmouth—ring false, as does some of the dialogue: “You sound like that Neruda poem I love so.” The case slowly breaks open, but long flashbacks to Celine’s uber WASPy childhood summers on Fishers Island N.Y. sap the narrative of momentum, as does a subplot involving Celine’s son who embarks on a missing persons investigation of his own in New England. The majesties and dangers of Yellowstone supply a compelling backdrop against which to set a story about “how easily parents can disappear and families fall apart”, and Heller, a gifted nature writer as well as novelist, handles certain set pieces well. But too often the novel seems lost in the wilderness. 100000 copy announced first printing. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Peter Heller is the best-selling author of The Painter and The Dog Stars. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in both fiction and poetry. An award-winning adventure writer and a longtime contributor to NPR, Heller is a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Kook,The Whale Warriors, and Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet’s Tsangpo River. He lives in Denver, Colorado.