Chief Inspector David Brock and Sergeant Kathy Kolla (Babel, 2003, etc.) consider the fate of a prominent architect who’s disappeared without a trace.
Charles Verge doesn’t turn up for a meeting with the Chinese delegation with whom he’s negotiating to build an important new public building. Why isn’t here there? Because he’s on the run after stabbing his partner and wife, Miki Norinaga. Or is he innocent? His sulky daughter, ex-con gardener, and Spanish artist neighbor are all convinced he’s innocent; his imperious mother proclaims from her wheelchair that he’s dead, murdered by the same killer; and the only indication that he’s still alive is hundreds of dubious sightings of him across Europe. One of those sightings—a glimpse of him in Verge’s birthplace of Barcelona—is marked by contradictions so intriguingly inconsequential that Kathy tears herself from the irksome Crime Strategy Working Party she’s been dropped into in order to fly to Spain and investigate. Though her inquiries hit a wall, new information back in England leads to the suicide of one of the prime suspects. A detailed confession from the apparent perpetrator, however, leaves both Kathy and Brock unsatisfied, and the case soon heats up again, leading Kathy in completely different, more painfully personal and even dangerous directions.
Despite the story’s tendency to split into two unrelated parts, Maitland burrows so deeply into the lives of Charles Verge, his associates, and the investigators that you’d think he was channeling P.D. James.