A pair of murders apparently related only by their proximity in time and place—London’s normally homicide-free Chelsea district—provides the latest challenge for the Met’s DI Kathy Kolla and DCI David Brock (Dark Mirror, 2009, etc.).
Which is more incredible: that a stranger would attack visiting Boston widower Nancy Haynes as she emerged with her accountant and friend Emerson Merckle from the Chelsea Flower Show and throw her under a passing bus, or that wealthy Russian businessman Mikhail Moszynski would be stabbed to death in his garden a few steps from Chelsea Mansions, the faded boutique hotel where Nancy had insisted on staying? The theory favored by Commander Sharpe, Brock’s boss, is that Nancy must have been mistaken for Mikhail’s imperious mother Marta by someone bent on revenge against her son. A second theory, pushed hard by Chelsea Mansions owner Toby Beaumont, is that the evil power behind Mikhail’s death is Sir Nigel Hadden-Vane, the dirty MP Brock last tilted with in Spider Trap (2006). But there’s a third, even darker possibility buried deep in Nancy’s family history. Although Brock is sidelined through most of the early going by a life-threatening infection and Kathy gets pulled off the case just as he’s fit enough to return, they close the case by an impressive show of tag-team sleuthing, complemented by the unsolicited help they both get from Canadian forensic linguist John Greenslade, who’s now sleeping in the bed last occupied by Nancy Haynes.
Satisfyingly rich fare for puzzle addicts and conspiracy theorists alike, capped by a string of climactic fireworks that are still exploding in the very last paragraph.