If you receive three dozen roses, should you be charmed or alarmed?
DCI Andrew Fenwick’s first case after returning to the Hardlen CID from compassionate leave—his suicidal wife lies in an irreversible coma—doesn’t seem like a case really, just an old file about a wife gone missing. She left one morning for a modeling session, and that’s the last her husband and kids ever saw of her. Run off with a lover? Run off out of boredom? Only her husband is convinced of foul play. But then another woman of the same age is found butchered, and when the missing wife’s body turns up, intensive work by Fenwick’s officers reveals a link between the two. The two women were schoolmates 20 years back at Downland Comprehensive, which is now planning a youth choir performance of Verdi’s “Requiem Mass” at which famed soprano Octavia Anderson, another old girl, has agreed to appear. Further investigation reveals that all three women were part of the “Famous Foursome,” inseparable chums followed everywhere by a younger groupie until a terrible holiday accident left one of them dead at the bottom of a cliff. Was it an accident, or is someone out to avenge a murder after all these years? Another of the gals dies on Fenwick’s watch, apparently leaving Octavia squarely in the killer’s sights. The perp sends her masses of roses. The perp sets a bomb. The perp evades surveillance. There’s an all too transparent plot twist yet to come, revealing the guilty party behind the schoolgirl mishap so many years ago.
An interminable slog with pauses for Fenwick (Innocent Blood, 2008, etc.) to reconnect with his kids, lust over Octavia and bicker with police superiors.