Out of Nowhere

Life is rarely easy for those who are sworn to “preserve and protect” the denizens of the fictitious Hong Bay district of Hong Kong, but the latest series of riddles inflicted upon Detective Chief Inspector Harry Feiffer and his colleagues is truly puzzling. Why should a van carrying four people who are strangers to one another travel six miles on the wrong side of a divided highway to collide with a truck? Why should these four people, who apparently have no thread of experience or knowledge connecting them, elect to commit such an unusual mass suicide? In an equally intriguing case, Inspectors Auden and Spencer investigate why a seemingly ferocious Dalmatian repeatedly enters and removes disparate items from the Chinese Apothecary and Herbal Medicine Shop. While his colleagues investigate the suicides and canine theft, Inspector Christopher O’Yee is receiving a series of phone calls from a ten-year-old street orphan in possession of a loaded gun given to him by a now-dead man. If O’Yee does not succeed in persuading this scared little boy to surrender the gun, tragedy may ensue.

These three episodes appear unconnected on the surface, but, as the investigations of Feiffer, O’Yee, and Inspectors Auden and Spencer proceed, the threads begin to come together, and the solution to each problem contributes to the resolution of the other two. The suicide becomes murder, the Chinese Apothecary and Herbal Medicine store is saved, and one small boy finds apparent salvation.

OUT OF NOWHERE is the thirteenth in a series, and devotees of William Marshall’s work will not be disappointed in this new addition to the canon. Marshall skillfully integrates private thoughts and dialogue and slips from character to character with facility. Marshall’s mysteries may not appeal to all readers, but others may find them extremely satisfying.