Heart of the World, Linda Barnes' 11th novel featuring Boston PI Carlotta Carlyle, finds the willowy detective hip-deep in a missing-persons case with very personal implications. Her little sister, a Latina teenager named Paolina, has gone missing. This would be bad enough under normal circumstances, but Paolina is the biological daughter of legendary Colombian drug lord Carlos Roldan Gonzales, and there is the very real possibility that she has been a) custodially kidnapped by her estranged father, or b) abducted by one of his many enemies. Paolina has figured in several of the Carlyle mysteries, and her character, always complex and involving, has matured over the past few books. Carlyle is still involved with Sam Gianelli, a somewhat reluctant mobster with strong family ties. Their relationship has been bumpy, but Sam is a handy man to have in your corner when you need an unlicensed gun or some musclemen in Bogot‡. Before she is finished, Carlyle will pay a visit to the war-torn countryside of Colombia, in search of revolutionaries, drug lords and Paolina, not necessarily in that order. Barnes is at the top of her form with Heart of the World. The novel is both a cracking suspense yarn and an in-depth look at a country that has been plagued for decades by drugs, corruption, the CIA and virtually any other pestilence you care to name. P.S.: Fans of the cliff-hanger ending will eagerly await the next installment of the series to see which of the men in Carlyle's life will win her heart.

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