Sleight of Hand
A Jo Banks Mystery
By Robin Hathaway
(Minotaur Books, Hardcover, 9780312370923, 256pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
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Dr. Jo Banks is well settled in her rather unusual life as one of the few doctors in the New Jersey fields, her office in a motor inn run by a pair of friendly, elderly Jersey-ites. But New York City is where she grew up, and there are times when she thinks back to those days with her father. One day, as she is driving home from her rounds at the hospital in the nearby town, she hears a familiar sound coming from a barn. It is the hum of an out-of-date printing press, a brand her father used. On an impulse, Jo leaves her motorcycle in the road and walks down to the barn housing the machine.
But the printer is hardly welcoming. While she is trying to talk to him, he catches his hand in the press, and Jo bursts into action. Although she removes the screws from the roller that is clamping the man’s fingers and offers to drive him to the hospital, he refuses to go and insists she treat him in his home.
The strange episode leads to Jo’s calling daily to attend to the man’s injury. She learns that he’s living with his daughter—a grown woman who possesses the mind of a child—that they are from New York, and that his wife has mysteriously disappeared. The printer is roughly grateful for Jo’s care, but he has much on his mind, and he will not leave his house. Jo begins to suspect he is connected to a recent local murder.
Robin Hathaway rewards her readers with another rich story of the lives of people who live and work in the New Jersey farmland. Sleight of Hand is a worthy addition to this finely crafted series.
Robin Hathaway won the SMP/Malice Domestic Competition for Best First Traditional Mystery Novel in 1997 and the 1998 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. She divides her time between New York City and Philadelphia.