Murder and sexual intrigue rock a small British village.
The day after Halloween, the Briarstone police receive a hysterical phone call from Felicity Maitland, a farm owner in the village of Morden. She’s found Polly Leuchars, a young family friend working as a stable groom, bloodied and lifeless in the cottage on the Maitland property. DCI Louisa “Lou” Smith of Major Crimes, who has the lead in the murder investigation, is dismayed when Andy Hamilton is put on the case too. She and Andy have had a brief liaison, and now she’s uncomfortable around him and ambivalent about the polite overtures of senior analyst Jason Mercer. But Lou doesn’t have much time to think about either man. The body of the Maitlands’ neighbor Barbara Fletcher-Norman is found in a car that went over a quarry cliff. Even though Polly might have had an affair with Barbara’s husband, Barbara’s implication in Polly’s murder seems a little too convenient. After all, Polly seems to have had affairs with half the villagers, including Felicity Maitland’s daughter, Flora, and a shadowy, sexually compelling lover for whom Polly threw Flora over. Although Jason is on hand to provide more than analytical support, Lou can’t fully take him up on his offer while she’s pursuing a murder, a possible suicide and illegal business dealings. An open ending suggests a sequel for Lou and a consummated romance, although readers who’ve been hooked by the buildup might feel cheated of a stronger resolution this time.
Police analyst Haynes (Into the Darkest Corner, 2013, etc.) includes official-looking documents and reports to add veracity to the dual cases, which would have been just as convincing and considerably peppier without the impersonal police blotterese.