A murder on the Metro presents a fifth case for a police inspector as smart as she is charmless.
As Joe Ashworth waits to leave a rapid-transit train crowded with holiday shoppers, he realizes that for one passenger, stabbed to death en route from Newcastle, there’ll be no more Christmases. Joe and his boss, Inspector Vera Stanhope, have to take the unhappy news about the victim, 70-year-old Margaret Krukowski, to Kate Dewar, who owns the Harbour Guest House in a dingy waterfront town at the end of the Metro line. Margaret had been living in the house long before Kate left behind her career as a singer to buy it, and the older woman stayed on as an employee and honorary grandmother to Kate’s two children. Although Vera’s supposed to supervise the case from her office, her love of digging into other people’s lives, perhaps because she has no personal life of her own, sends her door to door along with Joe and her other subordinates to ask questions about the proper, private victim, who had something to hide beyond her recent cancer diagnosis. Nor are the people who were the last to see her—a traveling book salesman, a local owner of a charter boat, a biology professor, even Kate’s lover—entirely honest with the detectives. When someone stabs a young prostitute Margaret had befriended, Vera finds the proof she needs that the girl’s death and Margaret’s are linked to the guesthouse, the boatyard, the local pub on Harbour Street, and to events from years ago. Then the chance recollection of one of Kate’s old songs warns the team that if they don’t act fast, they may have another murder, closer to home, on their hands.
Even though you may wish you could prod Cleeves (Dead Water, 2014, etc.) to pick up the leisurely pace, the complexities of the people and plot make the wait worthwhile.