Welsh Constable Evan Evans' laid-back approach to police work fits in snugly with the apparently lazy town of Llanfair. But like a duck sailing across the lake, the serenity is just on the surface, and both the town and the constable have a lot paddling around beneath it.

Newlywed Evan has been assigned to a new criminal investigation unit as the department looks into three seemingly unrelated murders, all using the same method of death. As Evan hunts for this serial killer, a teenage Pakistani girl whom Evan and his wife have befriended goes missing and racial tensions in the cozy little hamlet rise.

In her 10th Evan Evans book, Bowen's sly and gentle touch with characterization and setting dovetails the two cases, producing a cunningly told mystery and character study with a surprising climax. This is a gently enthralling read with likable characters that continues to whisper through the mind when it's over. (Aug., 256 pp., $23.95)
Reviewed by: 
Pat Cooper