Author: Peter Straub
Original language: English
In a meaty tribute to mystery sub-genres, Straub ( Ghost Story ) serves up a coming-of-age tale, a country-manor murder mystery and a twisted knot of governmental corruption and cover-up. Ten-year-old Tom Pasmore, a rich resident of the Caribbean island of Mill Walk, is hit by a car and, in a near-death experience, sees visions of himself in the future. During his long recuperation, Tom reads mystery stories brought to him by Lamont von Heilitz, an eccentric neighbor, once a famous detective. Action resumes when Tom, now aged 17 and possessed of sharpened deductive skills, gives the police an anonymous tip to help them solve the murder of a government official’s sister. Tom’s tip backfires, motivating him to join Lamont in trying to solve a murder that took place 20 years earlier in the Wisconsin resort town where Mill Walk’s privileged citizens spend their summers. That layered, complex case reveals a long history of corruption, leads to more murders, to realization of the meaning of Tom’s early visions and his discovery of his true identity. While evocative of place and time (the early ’60s) and peopled with memorable characters, the story tries to fit into too many subgenres to succeed completely at any one. $200,000 ad/promo.