Ghost Walk

No good deed goes unpunished, as amateur detective Dido Hoare finds out when she tries to help a now-homeless Greek professor ”with white hair and economical movements” who’s been hanging around her antiquarian bookshop. When he turns up dead on a nearby street, Dido, a sardonic 33-year-old widow ”on the downward path into middle age,” is lured into a dark mystery with roots that stretch back as far as the ancient texts in her store. With Marianne Macdonald’s biting wit and edgy take on modern life, Ghost Walk is a kind of illuminated manuscript itself, with finely etched characters: Dido’s irascible father, Barnabas; her ”more or less” married boyfriend, Paul, who at times annoys her so much she’s actually ”reduced to doing housework”; and — in an amazing triumph of innuendo over language — Dido’s infant son, Ben. Gurgling and roaring, yet never saying a word, he remains a compelling presence throughout this tightly plotted novel of sophisticated suspense. A