Fowler’s latest in his Peculiar Crimes Unit series combines the best of Sherlock Holmes and police procedurals with a fantasy world in modern England. The mystery truly baffles and, from all appearances, could only be accomplished by black magic — but that’s impossible, right? Dark humor and the unusual tone of the narrative keep the tale lively.

A young woman with no apparent injuries dies inside of a church, and the only witnesses are two young children. The Peculiar Crimes Unit sees something more and pulls strings to get the case. To complicate matters for the team, their archenemy, Oskar Kasavian, the head of Home Office security, desperately wants to hire them. His wife has been acting strange for some time; she believes she’s been possessed by an evil spirit. The Peculiar Crimes Unit is forced to put aside its detectives’ feelings and solve two seemingly different and bizarre cases. (BANTAM, Dec., 368 pp., $26.00)
Reviewed by: 
Jeff Ayers