A Cold Case, by Philip Gourevitch (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Tempered praise for this true-crime tale of a detective who refuses to let an unsolved murder case die. Most critics commend the author for his restrained tone and his focus on character and context over narrative tension. They say the "details dazzle" (Troy Patterson, Entertainment Weekly). Everyone points out that the book is physically lean, and a few suggest it reads like a "slightly expanded magazine feature" (Luc Sante, the New York Times). Though many reviewers believe a reflective Gourevitch "manages to raise some large, uneasy questions" (Charles Taylor, Salon), a couple of detractors think he makes only "vague, halfhearted stabs at psychological explication" (Sante). (Read an excerpt.)— J.F.
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