Because you never know when Eros may strike without warning or pity, John Piddock has an unusually broad-minded agreement with his wife, Det. Supt. Harriet Martens of Greater Birchester: occasional extramarital sex won’t affect their relationship. Minutes after she arrives at neighboring Leven Vale to take charge of the investigation into the murder of tennis star Bubbles Xingara, stabbed to death just a few feet from her own bailiwick, that agreement is sorely tested when Harriet becomes instantly and rapturously infatuated not with Leven Vale’s lothario DI (“Handy Andy”) Anderson but with DI Anselm Brent, her stolid local subordinate on the case. Harriet struggles womanfully to throw herself into the details of the case, but every suspect that pops up—Bubbles’s legatees, her empty-headed mother and her stepfather/coach; the possible resentment of the suddenly impoverished school friend she made her secretary; the French gangster whose advances Bubbles publicly disdained; the cracked poet who elegized her in doggerel; the California coach sacked by the stepfather; the Leven Vale roofer who abruptly quit the neighborhood when he heard of Bubbles’s death—turns out to be a red herring. And in truth, Keating is much less interested in wrapping up the mystery than in tracing the stages—predictable but by turns touching, amusing, and painful—in the course of a forbidden love that can’t possibly run smooth.
Transcends Harriet’s debut (The Hard Detective, 2000) to join Keating’s trenchant studies of The Rich Detective (1993), The Good Detective (1995), The Soft Detective (1998), and The Bad Detective (1999).