This is an unsolicited advertisement for Mischa Berlinksi’s first novel, Fieldwork. It’s a compelling mystery, fluently and charmingly told. Without being at all pretentious, it’s also a challenging novel of ideas. Berlinski juxtaposes an imaginary Southeast Asian hill people who have remarkable religious rites of their own, a three-generation family of American evangelical missionaries who are thoroughly acclimatized and believe in the local gods (albeit as devils), a Dutch-American ethnologist who also happens to be a politically conservative woman, and a contemporary slacker dude. He describes everyone with respect and empathy. I can’t think of a way to discuss the issues Berlinski raises without spoiling the plot, so I will just say: read it.