Molten Mud Murder

Poisoned Pen: Sourcebooks. (Alexa Glock, Bk. 1). Sept. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781464211232. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781464211249. M
American Alexa Glock is a forensics expert who finished a job in Auckland, New Zealand, and hopes to find a temporary job to extend her work permit. When she learns about an unidentified man whose body was found in the mud pits in Rotorua, she offers to help the local police force. Alexa is trained in odontology, the study of teeth, which might help since the man’s head was boiled in the mud. As the police investigate the victim, it’s clear he violated the sacred lands of the Maori, a large population on the island. Many think he deserved to die for stepping on a sacred island without permission. Forewarned, Alexa is sent to the island to investigate. When her lab assistant is attacked and a Maori man is murdered, she and the investigating team try to determine whether the Maori are responsible or someone is trying to frame them.
VERDICT There’s a strong sense of place, history, and Maori culture in this compelling debut novel. The mystery combines forensic investigation with the rich details of a fascinating culture. Fans of Kathy Reichs’s mysteries will appreciate the forensics, while Jane Harper’s readers will enjoy the rich culture.
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