Heaven is High
A Barbara Holloway Mystery by Kate Wilhelm
Review: Criminal defense attorney Barbara Holloway looks into the case of a mute woman about to be deported to her home in Haiti, where she will almost certainly be in danger for her life, in Heaven is High, the 12th mystery in this series by Kate Wilhelm.
Barbara is not an expert in immigration law, but the case against Binnie — and by extension, her popular former pro-football player husband — seems weak. But before she can refer them to an expert, an agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency shows up on her doorstep with a proposal for the couple, and later a threat, that doesn't sit well with her. For starters, how did the DEA know about Binnie's pending deportation? And why would they care? Deciding to look into the matter herself, she travels to Belize, where Binnie was born before being forced to move to Haiti with her mother as an infant. All clues seem to point to the owner of the Santos Shipping Company, which also holds large land holdings in the country. But another American in Belize also has in interest in the Santos operations, leading to complications for Barbara's investigation.
Though the plot of Heaven is High seems a little far-fetched, especially when pirates and drug lords and such are brought into the mix, a couple of factors work strongly in the book's favor. First, Barbara is feeling a bit restless and in need of a change of scenery, so rather than trust her operative to go to Belize to do the leg work, she goes herself. Too, she's expecting the trip to be little more than fact-finding mission and not dangerous in the least. Second, the book takes place during the 1980s, pre-Internet, so any research that needed to be done had to be performed in person, necessitating someone on the ground in Belize. What also helps is that the plot moves along concisely and briskly, with a minimum of subplot distractions. This isn't so much a legal thriller as it is a legal procedural — though there are a number of alarming close calls — with the pieces to what turns out to be a surprisingly complex puzzle (as it were) neatly falling into place as Barbara discovers them. All in all, a solid and very enjoyable entry in this series.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Heaven is High for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Death of an Artist
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), March 2012
ISBN-13: 9780312658618; ISBN-10: 0312658613
Location(s) referenced in Heaven is High: Eugene, Oregon, Belize
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Heaven is High by Kate Wilhelm — A Barbara Holloway Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: February 2011
List Price: $24.99