Leaving Time.

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Leaving Time

By Jodi Picoult

New Hampshire writer Jodi Picoult is the author of 23 novels--one per year since her debut in 1992--that examine controversial issues. Her most popular book is My Sister s Keeper (***1/2 July/Aug 2004); some of her other recent titles are Handle with Care (HHHJ May/June 2009), House Rules (***1/2 May/June 2010), and Sing You Home (***1/2 May/June 2011).

THE STORY: Ten years ago Jenna Metcalf's mother, Alice, mysteriously disappeared from the New Hampshire elephant sanctuary where she worked. Jenna, 13, who now lives with her grandmother, has never stopped looking for her mother. Her loss finds a strange mirror in Alice's scientific specialty: elephant emotions, especially grieving practices. Trawling the Internet and scouring her mother's diaries, Jenna is getting nowhere, and her father, now in a mental hospital, is no help. Instead, pink-haired psychic Serenity Jones and private eye Virgil Stanhope become Jenna's hapless assistants. Virgil first investigated Alice's disappearance, along with her colleague's coincidental death, a decade back. Jenna narrates, along with these two--and Alice fills in her own back-story.

Ballantine Books. 416 pages. $28. ISBN: 9780345544926

Boston Globe ***1/2

"[O]ne pivotal scene midway and the novel's shocker of an ending require considerable suspension of disbelief. But that doesn't stop it from both piercing and uplifting the hearts of those willing go along for the ride." KAREN CAMPBELL

St. Louis Post-Dispatch ***1/2

"The question of what happened the night Alice vanished is answered in detail, but saying more would be a spoiler. Picoult has written a lovely novel about a mother's love for her child and what she will do to protect that child" AMANDA ST. AMAND

Kirkus Reviews ***

"The pages turn apace, though Virgil labors under too many noir cliches, and wisecracking Serenity seems to be on loan from a Susan Isaacs novel. The ending borrows unforgivably from a source it would be equally unforgivable to reveal."

USA Today ***

"[A] fast-paced, surprise-ending mystery that's fun to read, but in the end, not all that artful.... The...

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