A jigsaw puzzle of a case awaits British nurse-turned-p.i. Kate Kinsella (Deadly Partners
, 1997, etc.) as she returns from a visit to New Zealand to her home in Longborough, where she rents an office in the building that houses Hubert Humberstone's Funeral Home. Hubert, a friend as well as a landlord, has a case lined up for his tenant. Longborough resident Lorraine Farnforth claims to have seen a woman shot, her body put in the trunk of a car, and the killer driving off. Her record of shoplifting prevents her from calling the police, but now that she's being harassed by silent phone calls, she's eager to pay Kate for protection. Some days later, Hubert calls Kate's attention to another case via a newspaper missing-person report concerning Paula Jenkins, wife of local factory owner Ian Jenkins. Soon after, a panicked call from Lorraine brings Kate to her home, where she and Army Major Jem Harrison, visiting his aunt next door, have been attacked and slightly injured while Lorraine was walking her dog. Later that night, the intruder returns, and Kate, sleeping over, wakes to find Lorraine dead, apparently of suffocation. That's just the beginning of a convoluted series of subplots, characters, and motives that come tumbling from past and present, all interspersed with Kate's self-deprecatory musings.
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