Simon Shaw (The Bug Funeral, 2004, etc.) solves the murder of his best friend.
David Morgan, 42, a North Carolina academic whose important life decisions have turned on which boots to pack for an archaeology dig, is fatally whacked with a geode for reasons beyond the understanding of Detective-Sergeant Otis Gates and Morgan’s best friend, Pulitzer Prize–winning Shaw. Gates suspects the sister who stands to inherit a tidy sum from the crime. But since Morgan would have been the swing vote in deciding whether the 14,000-year-old bones of Uwharrie Man stayed at Kenan College for more study or were returned to the Lumbee Indian tribe for burial, Shaw focuses on the four other members of the advisory committee. Was Morgan on the side of those who would keep or return the bones? Who knows? His notes on the subject are missing. After a nubile grad student persuades Shaw that her mentor is innocent, his attention shifts abruptly when a plane’s fuel tank is tinkered with, killing the pilot, another committee member. But applying his Pulitzer-keen mind to the matter, Shaw resolves the mystery, although not without cost to his love life.
Interesting prehistory background (did Caucasians settle the Americas before the Indians?), but Shaw is not so much grief-stricken as bourbon-soaked. A lesser effort from the usually warmly cozy Shaber.