A Novel

Book - 2017 | First edition
Average Rating:
Rate this:
From the bestselling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter, a luminous, masterful novel of suspense--the story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past.Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela's father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed--that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed. Combining the exquisite plotting and gorgeous evocation of nature that have become his hallmark, with a wildly engrossing story of family, privilege, and childhood loss, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, [2017]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780451493897
Branch Call Number: HELLER
Characteristics: 333 pages ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jun 29, 2019

Finished it, but only by skimming the final quarter and my issues lay with the main character, Celine. She's a sharp-shooter, brilliant, beautiful, elderly, entirely without flaw whose partner is continually enthralled with what an incredible, almost unbelievable woman he's found. And that was the problem; she was unbelievable and past a certain point incredibly annoying. The plot was very thinly worked out and the ending was ridiculous and, guess what?!, basically unbelievable as well. Really disappointed in this one.

JCLTiffanyR Jun 04, 2019

Readers looking for a twisty mystery or an edge of your seat thrill ride will be sorely disappointed. This book is not that kind of mystery. In fact, the mystery plays a distant second fiddle to getting to know Heller's beautifully rendered characters, including the heroine, Celine, a 70+ year old, blueblood P.I. with emphysema. Celine and the entire secondary cast are worth getting to know, and Heller's prose is beautiful to read!

Hillsboro_JulieB Jan 09, 2019

Celine is a blue-blood, private detective who takes on the 20-year old case of a missing father. Rich in description and details, the author slowly reveals a fascinating backstory of Celine through a combination of her memories, her son's perspective, and her husband's observations while the mystery of the missing father unfolds.

Mar 05, 2018

Heller's novel The Painter was a real disappointment after the great work he did with Dog Stars. The characters in Celine are even thinner and the back story more disjointed. Suspension of disbelief proved impossible. It looks like Dog Stars might have been a fluke which is a real shame.

Nov 27, 2017

Very descriptive, well written book with interesting characters but the plot got lost somewhere and the ending was disappointing and unbelievable.

Jul 17, 2017

Young women, I hope we all agree, should be able to find the occasional superwoman heroine in various entertainment genres. So it is only just that seniors such as myself should be able to enjoy Peter Heller's private investigator Celine. Even if Celine's talents and nerve (and luck) strained my ability to "suspend disbelief" somewhat. However, Heller's style is so unique and the novel so beautifully written that I won't quibble, I'd prefer to just enjoy.

Jul 09, 2017

Very very good book - loved the characters !

Jun 25, 2017

I read this book in a single night fascinated by Celine and the cast of characters. I love the sweet relationship with her taciturn husband, who tries to sneak vegetables into her diet. In some ways this feels like picking up a mystery book in the middle of a series- you want to know about the cases that Celine has solved before, the story of her first marriage, where she learned her spy craft, gun skills, etc. More than anything the reader hopes that Celine will solve the mystery that hangs over her own life- the whereabouts of her lost daughter.

Jun 17, 2017

Well, I am going to disagree with the majority here. The plot is good, the characters believable and one attaches to them. But the way Heller provides the background of each character is so clunky. It's like when you see a good play but the lead character has overdone his make-up. The wrinkles are too etched and can be seen to be false from the audience; the costume just 2 degrees too cute. It made the book sophomoric to me. Some writers create the background with such subtlety that it the same way a person notices things. This was not that. This was a wet towel swatting you in the face with Celine's wealth, background, dress, etc etc ad nauseam.

amf_0 Jun 09, 2017

Involving mystery, good writing, interesting characters. I especially loved the description of the mountain landscapes - perhaps, because I'm from Rocky Mountain country myself?!

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Jul 11, 2017

Celine, my new novel, was a bit different, and very special, because it is about my mom. She died two and half years ago, and I think I wanted to spend another year with her. Like the protagonist she was a crack investigator who specialized in reuniting birth families. Like Celine, she could shoot—the scene in Idaho with the gun dealer when she blows seven cans and bottles off the log is true—and she really did bring in a bank fraud perp for the FBI—after spying on him with her opera glasses, and executing a high speed car chase in her old Volvo. She really was courageous and elegant, and the family backstory in France during the war is all true. I tried to write her as closely as I could.

The book, I guess, was a coming home for me. As writing fiction was, after so many years as a journalist.

-- Peter Heller, From an interview published online by Amazon Book Review March 2017.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SL

To Top