A murdered man in Blaircomrie, Scotland, seems to have no identity; then he has too many.
Beth Monroe has become so attached to her charming new lodger, Johnnie Stewart, that she’s shattered when he goes out one day and never comes back. At length, she reports his disappearance to the police. It turns out that he’s been stabbed to death, but the toughest part of the case may be identifying him, for he’s certainly not Johnnie Stewart. An artist’s sketch of the dead man that appears in the papers proves a stunning shock to two different families. In Stonebridge, North Yorkshire, the Gregory family is dealing with the sudden death of their mother, Sally, in a car accident. When their grandparents see the picture, they have to tell David and Will and their wives that they think the unidentified man is their father, Lawrence Gregory, who’s supposed to have died 30 years ago. At Foxclere in East Sussex, another family has been dealing with a recent shock, the death of Greg Lawrence in a terrorist bombing in Egypt. When Jill Lawrence and her married children, Richard and Georgia, see the picture in the paper, they do not want to believe it is Greg, and Jill goes to Scotland with a recent picture for Beth Monroe to identify. What this all has to do with a hit-and-run in Scotland and several robberies in East Sussex is just another puzzle for the police to solve while the families wrestle with problems of their own, exacerbated by the possibility of newfound relatives.
Once again, Fraser (The Unburied Past, 2013, etc.) uses complicated domestic relationships as the basis for a good mystery served up with plenty of family angst.