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NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dog Stars comes another "gorgeously wrought story—equal parts character study and mystery—a young woman asks Celine, a badass Brooklyn private eye, to investigate the death of her father, a nature photographer" (Entertainment Weekly).
Celine is not your typical private eye. With prep school pedigree and a pair of opera glasses for stakeouts, her methods are unconventional but extremely successful. Working out of her jewel box of an apartment nestled under the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career out of tracking down missing persons nobody else can find. But when a young woman named Gabriela employs her expertise, what was meant to be Celine's last case becomes a scavenger hunt through her own memories, the secrets there and the surprising redemptions.
Gabriela's father was a National Geographic photographer who went missing in Wyoming twenty years ago and while he was assumed to have been mauled by a grizzly his body was never found. Celine and her partner set out to Yellowstone National Park to follow a trail gone cold but soon realize that somebody desperately wants to keep this case closed. Combining ingenious plotting with crystalline prose and sweeping natural panoramas, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We devour everything that Peter Heller writes. Celine is another irresistible novel by the author of The Dog Stars. Heller’s writing is powerful and poetic, his plot pulses with mystery, and, best of all, he’s created a remarkable heroine unlike any we’ve ever met. She’s a 70-something woman with blue-blood pedigree, unorthodox opinions and hobbies, and terrible lungs. In addition to creating disturbing taxidermy sculptures and avoiding vegetables like the plague, Celine has dedicated her life to solving missing-person cases. When an alluring young woman comes to her for help, Celine feels more alive than she has in years. But is she healthy enough for one last investigation?
Despite its intriguing premise, Heller's (The Dog Stars) third novel is a missing persons mystery that never quite finds its mark. Celine, descended from the original governors of the Plymouth Colony, is a well-heeled investigator, the "Prada PI," whose age (68) is still well below her success rate (96%). Gabriela hires her to look into the disappearance of Gabriela's father, a famous nature photographer who years ago was presumed dead after a grizzly attack just outside of Yellowstone National Park. Agreeing with Gabriela that the death appeared staged, Celine and her husband, Pete, retired and almost as resourceful as his wife, head out West. The plucky Celine has her charms, but other characters, such as Elbie Chicksaw, the Montana tracker who studied comparative literature at Dartmouth, ring false, as does some of the dialogue: "You sound like that Neruda poem I love so." The case slowly breaks open, but long flashbacks to Celine's uber-WASPy childhood summers on Fishers Island, N.Y., sap the narrative of momentum, as does a subplot involving Celine's son, who embarks on an missing persons investigation of his own in New England. The majesties and dangers of Yellowstone supply a compelling backdrop against which to set a story about "how easily parents can disappear and families fall apart," and Heller, a gifted nature writer as well as novelist, handles certain set pieces well. But too often the novel seems lost in the wilderness. 100,000-copy announced first printing.