How can you solve a murder if the baby needs changing?
Manchester private eye Sal Kilkenny, a single mother living with her young daughter and Ray, a roommate-turned-lover, and his young son, isn’t at all sure she wants to take on the job of proving that Damien, who confessed to murdering Charles Carter, is really innocent. Damien’s sister thinks so, Charlie’s mistress Libby isn’t sure, and now Damien himself has recanted his confession. Sal barely has time to set up a prison visit with Damien, though, because someone has left a baby on her doorstep with a note promising to explain matters later. Ray wants the baby turned over to Social Services, the kids think of the tot as a new toy, and Sal broods and labors to fit nappy changes in between murder enquiries and vice versa. Damien, his memory fogged by drugs, is little help in recounting what put him in jail. Before Sal makes any headway, he hangs himself in his cell. Painstakingly, she reviews the alibis of everyone from Charlie’s betrayed wife to his emotionally bereft teenage son to his mistress, now the mother of his other child. His ex–business partner, a con man, appears and attacks Sal. Is the foundling on her doorstep a by-blow of Ray’s? He’s gone incommunicado and can’t be asked. The kids and relationship tension take up much of Sal’s time, but detailed scrutiny of the murder timetable upends several alibis and seems to vindicate Damien, leaving Sal free to connect with the baby’s mum.
Emotionally gritty, though it’s hard to admire Sal’s taste in men or her pedestrian investigative methods (Missing, 2007, etc.).