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A FONDNESS FOR TRUTH by Kim Hays: Book Review

When Andi Eberhart is killed, at first it seems like a tragic accident.  She was heading home late at night on her bicycle, without a helmet, on a dark road.  Then her bike left the path, and she flew off.

Did Andi simply lose control of her bicycle, or did someone hit her and force her off the road?  The more the police investigate, the more reasons appear to show that the death might have been deliberate.

First, she was a member of a biracial lesbian couple, and her marriage had caused the estrangement of her Tamil partner from her family.

Second, she had been receiving hate mail, letters that warned Andi that “God will punish you” for her marriage and that their child was “an abomination.”

Third, one of the members of the curling team that she captained openly held hostile feelings toward her, believing that she, not Andi, should have been chosen as the head of the team.

Bern, Switzerland homicide Detective Giuliana Linder is heading the investigation along with Investigator Renzo Donatelli.  Andi’s partner, Nisha, tells Giuliana that she can’t think of any reason anyone would have wanted to cause Andi’s death, even though she admits that their relationship caused rifts within their families and the larger immigrant community.

Simultaneously, Giuliana is investigating another case.  A truly horrific murder has taken place, and although the killer is in custody, there are still many questions that remain unanswered.

Manfred and Iris Kissling were the parents of two young daughters, Mia and Lea, and the couple was recently divorced.  Although Manfred had asked the court for full custody, he was granted only two weekends a month.  Then, several months after the divorce, Manfred took the girls out for the afternoon and threw them off a high cliff.  When he didn’t return them to Iris at the appointed time, she called the police; they came to Manfred’s apartment and arrested him.  Since then he’s been in prison awaiting trial, refusing to give the police any reasons for or details about his crime.

When Giuliana meets Iris Kissling, she’s puzzled by the woman.  Rather than wearing the subdued clothes the detective expected to see on a grieving mother, Iris is wearing bright colors and jewelry.  Her demeanor is odd too, the detective thinks, and she explains to her supervisor after the interview, “It’s as if she’s playing a part….she’s just…blank.”  Giuliana says she’d like Iris to have a psychiatric evaluation, and the prosecutor says he’ll look at the video of the interview and then make a decision.

In addition to their police cases, both Giuliana and Renzo are having troubles at home.  Giuliana’s mother-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer, and her behavior is bringing up various family issues; Renzo’s marriage is an unhappy one, and it’s becoming obvious to all concerned.

A Fondness for Truth is the third book in the Polizei Bern series, and each one gives the reader more details about life in Switzerland.  Giuliana and Renzo are beautifully drawn, believable in their personal and professional lives, and learning about Swiss customs and traditions is fascinating.  The author, an American who has lived in Switzerland for thirty-five years with her husband, makes her adopted home come to life.

You can read more about Kim Hays at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.


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