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WHY WE DIE by Mick Herron

WHY WE DIE

By Mick Herron

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 2006
ISBN: 0-7867-1827-7

Death-obsessed enquiry agent Zoë Boehm investigates a theft whose every new dimension gets trickier and nastier.

Three men robbed Harold Sweeney’s jewelry shop, one of them injuring an off-duty security guard with a well-placed shot from a crossbow. Even though the guilt of the three adopted brothers—Arkle the archer, Baxter the brains and Trent the lush—is clear, Zoë is sure there’s more to the robbery than Sweeney knows, and more than he’s telling her. She quickly works out that Sweeney’s loss includes a lot of pieces he hasn’t mentioned to the police, and that omission tells her that this is no routine robbery. A conversation with a surprising informant connects many of the dots, but at the cost of plunging Zoë (The Last Voice You Hear, 2004, etc.) into the middle of a star-crossed cast of characters ranging from a battered young wife to a suicidal supplier of electrical goods to a felony-minded chauffeur. Herron deftly introduces each of his characters as stereotypes, then deforms them all so unexpectedly—the criminal mastermind seeks his latest victim by typing into a computer search engine the question, “Where is Helen Coe?”—that you’re never sure who’s on first, or which innocent is capable of turning into a killer.

The result is a dark, entertaining, off-kilter world in which anything can happen, and probably will.