A burned body and a missing husband-to-be are only two of many headaches for a detective inspector.
DI Tom Mariner and his girlfriend, Suzy Yin, are house hunting, though not for shared space. They both know they’re better off as weekend lovers, Tom in his Birmingham home and Suzy wherever she can find more space for her book collection than in her postgrad student flat. Estate agent Gaby Boswell, who promises to help, turns up at a reception for Mariner’s sergeant, who belongs to Gaby’s church. That night, Mariner, awakening to smoke, hastens across the canal to help rescue Salwa Shah and her two children. But he can’t save her father, who’s trapped in his bedroom. Salwa, whose husband is away on business in Sana’a, Yemen, says that she and her family have been on the receiving end of complaints and harassment, although the chief perpetrator, Mariner learns, has an alibi. While the Fire Investigation team painstakingly goes over the house to determine the cause of the blaze, Mariner gets a cry for help from Gaby, whose normally reliable fiance, Sam Fleetwood, has vanished only days before their wedding. On the homefront, Mariner’s worried about his “bedroom difficulties,” even though Suzy is patient with him, and he faces new problems with his late lover’s autistic brother, for whom Mariner acts as guardian. The discovery first of Sam’s wallet, then of a second burned corpse in the Shahs’ house leaves Mariner a body with no ID and an ID with no body. A large bank withdrawal in the Shah case, signs of a mysterious other woman in Sam’s, and a late-breaking lady-in-jeopardy subplot promise the Brum cop a full dance card.
Collett (Dead of Night, 2014, etc.) packs this eighth series entry with subplots and secondary dramas that never quite make up for an implausible killer and a tacked-on conclusion.