DC Sukey Reynolds (Alpha, Beta, Gamma…Dead, 2007, etc.) investigates the death of a bestselling romance novelist on her isolated country estate.
At first it seems obvious that Jennifer Cottrell, found drowned in her bathtub at Woodlands, her ungainly and inconvenient West Country home, was killed by an irate fan. Reynolds even saw said fan, Wendy Downie, verbally assault Cottrell at a book signing that her colleague, DC Vicky Armstrong, dragged her to just days before. But as Reynolds and DS Greg Rathbone poke around a bit, something seems off. They can’t feature why Lillian Brand, Cottrell’s confident, competent personal assistant, agreed to follow her to the gloomy countryside. And they can’t figure out Elsie Norris, Cottrell’s grim, tight-lipped housekeeper, much at all. But although there’s no love lost between Brand and Norris, they both seem bent on keeping Maggie, the voluble housemaid, from talking while Isla Bain, Cottrell’s editor, also tries some stonewalling of her own. As Reynolds and Rathbone chip away at the conspiracy of silence, more bodies surface. DCI Leach wants answers, but after rookie Tim Pringle allows Giles Hickson to go home on a promise to report to the police the next day, the handyman promptly vanishes. It takes all Reynolds’ resources and then some to bring a killer to justice.
Domestic lives as dull as their work make this peek at the men and women of the CID quite a slog.