The Beryllium Murder

Beryllium Cover

By Camille Minichino

Gloria Lamerino travels across the country to Berkeley, California, where she spent a thirty-year career in physics research. Ostensibly visiting her friend, technical editor Elaine Cody, Gloria also intends to investigate the death of beryllium engineer Gary Larkin who died of beryllium poisoning. An accident, the police say, but Gloria knows better. Before her "vacation" week is over, Gloria has dealt with a missing teenager, a surprise visit from Sergeant Matt Gennaro of the Revere, Massachusetts Police Department, and a team of beryllium researchers with hidden agenda. Instead of touring the sights of northern California, Gloria spends her time at a popular toxic waste dump in the Berkeley hills.


From: Publisher's Weekly / February 21, 2000
Morrow, $25 (272p) ISBN 0-688-1 7207-5

Of all the nomenclatural devices mystery authors have devised to gain recognition, none may be more ambitious or obscure than Minichino's use of the periodic table. This is the fourth in the author's series of elemental mysteries (following Hydrogen, Helium and Lithium). Fortunately, here, as before, knowledge of science is not a prerequisite to enjoying the sleuthing of Gloria Lamerino, 56, a retired physicist who's found a new, and much more dangerous, career as an amateur sleuth and sometime assistant to the Revere, Mass., police when they are confronted by a case that needs scientific input. The suspicious death of former colleague Gary Larkin is enough to prompt Lamerino to visit old friends in Berkeley, Calif., where the local cops are definitely not welcoming. She is soon fully involved in tracking the events leading to Larkin's death by beryllium poisoning, as well as to the disappearance of the teenage son of her girlfriend's beau. Minichino nicely picks her way through the difficulties of creating a scientific grounding for her mystery without off-putting technical jargon. That, plus Lamerino's blend of courage, reasoning and perseverance and a well-constructed plot, make for another attractive mystery in an impressive series. Agent, Elaine Koster. (Mar.)

From: East Bay Express Online
- Publisher's Row / April, 2000

Just when you've finally trained yourself to stop drinking mercury, along comes beryllium. Discovered in 1798, this nineteenth most abundant element is present in the earth's crust, in the mineral beryl, and in emeralds. As an alloy, beryllium pops up in golf clubs, bike frames, computers, and spacecraft. And it can make you very sick. Hence Camille Minichino's new mystery, The Beryllium Murder (Morrow, $24), in which a Berkeley scientist dies of beryllium poisoning. Accident or murder? Retired physicist Gloria Lamerino is on the case. In crafting her sleuth, who has appeared in three previous mysteries, Minichino hoped to make science more accessible-fun, even-especially for female readers. "That's always my agenda," says the San Leandro author. A physicist herself, Minichino recalls how rare it was for a schoolgirl in the '50s to seek a scientific career. "I had two female math teachers, which was itself rare. I liked them and I knew they liked me, so of course I liked math. I was lucky." The crisply told tale unfolds amid familiar surroundings: Peet's Coffee, REI. Into the mix go vengeance, computer hacking, and perilous misadventures. The fictional and intensely focused Lamerino, set to tackle boron in her next adventure, "is not me," insists Minichino, who will appear April 6 at MC Newburn Books. "She doesn't read the New Yorker, and I do."
by Anneli Rufus