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Kim Hays
A Fondness for Truth
Kim Hays, author

This third Polizei Bern mystery begins with the deliberate hit-and-run death of Andi Eberhart, a woman riding her bicycle home from an evening curling practice. Her devastated wife, Nisha, a second-generation immigrant from Sri Lanka, is convinced the death was no accident. Andi had been receiving homophobic hate mail for several years, and the letters grew uglier after the couple’s baby was born.

Bern homicide Detective Giuliana Linder is assigned to investigate what happened to Andi. While she pieces together the details of Andi and Nisha’s lives, her assistant Renzo Donatelli looks into Andi’s job advising young men who’ve been drafted into Switzerland’s civilian service. Working closely together, Giuliana and Renzo are again tempted to become more than just friendly colleagues. 

As both detectives dig into Andi’s life, one thing becomes clear: Andi’s friends and family may have loved her for her honesty, but her outspokenness threatened others. Did one of those people decide to get rid of her? 

On an icy night, Andi Eberhart is killed by a hit and run while biking home after curling practice. Andi's death soon is recognized for what her wife, Nishi, suspects: murder, deliberate and heartless. Hays’s detective duo Giuliana Linder and Renzo Donatelli of the Bern, Switzerland, police department (introduced in Pesticide) return in their third book, learning that Andi had been receiving horrifying letters for years and that Nisha's Tamil immigrant family oppose her lesbian relationship. Also on the suspect list: Andi's coworkers and clients, jealous curlers, and citizens who oppose same-sex marriage and found Andi's outspoken advocacy to be inflammatory. Further complicating matters is a mystery of life rather than death—the identity of the biological father of Andi and Nisha's daughter.

Swiss-American Hays paints a complex person in a complex world that has not been welcoming to Andi and the family of her choosing. Guiliana and Renzo remain compelling characters, too, fascinating and flawed people who love their work, love their families, but still feel a connection to each other that makes working together seamless and complicated all at once. Both experience the conflict of loving their partners and children while feeling drawn to the darkness of the work they do and the pull to another person who understands. The "will they or won't they" chemistry proves as potent as the central mystery itself, and although this entry stands on its own, procedural fans will likely be enticed enough to pick up the earlier books.

Outside of the "whodunnit," A Fondness for Truth feels fresh as it engages with societal conflicts that resonate: LGBTQ+ rights in love, acceptance, and legality; interracial and interfaith relationships; and relationship struggles when the spark of new is tamped down by everyday life and responsibilities. Hays offers insight into all of this and the feelings that this deeply human cast must manage. Hays’s empathetic, entertaining, smartly plotted mystery will keep readers guessing.

Takeaway: Stellar series procedural with compelling detectives and deep empathy.

Comparable Titles: Ann Cleeves, Deborah Crombie.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A