A rewarding entry in the British police genre featuring reflective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby and his frequently obnoxious sidekick Sergeant Troy (Written in Blood, 1995 etc.). The tiny, gossipy village of Fawcett Green is on Barnaby’s turf, and strange things are happening there. Beautiful, fragile blond Simone Hollingsworth has disappeared in what soon appears to be a kidnaping for ransom, and her adoring husband is drinking himself into oblivion at Nightingales, their overdecorated house. Next door at the Larches live uptight Reg and Iris Brockley and their cruelly plain daughter Brenda, who is secretly obsessed with Hollingsworth. Her parents keep a sharp eye on their neighbor until Brenda, too, vanishes. When Hollingsworth is found dead of a prescription drug overdose—a goodbye message on his computer—Barnaby is unconvinced it’s suicide. His attention turns to Gray Patterson, cheated in business by Hollingsworth and once arrested for attacking him. But Patterson’s energies seem focused now on Sarah Lawson, a reticent artist living in Bay Tree Cottage whose coming and goings carry their own mystery. The complex resolution of all this and more leaves Barnaby in a state of mind that combines satisfaction with frustration. Graham writes in an old-fashioned way—with leisurely grace, ironic wit, real-seeming characters, ongoing suspense, and a corker of a plot. The result: top-flight entertainment.