DCI Neil Paget (The Cold Hand of Malice, 2009, etc.) probes a stone-cold case that everyone—even the victims’ families—would rather see left in the icebox.
When Claire Hammond inherits her next-door neighbor’s house, she inherits an unexpected dilemma as well. Before he killed himself 13 years ago, Jane Grant’s nephew Barry left a cryptic set of letters admitting his involvement in a robbery that left jeweler Emily Bergman and baker George Taylor dead. DS Thomas Alcott wants the case reopened, but he’s distracted by his wife’s sudden bout of emphysema. So he leaves it to Paget to interview Taylor’s sons, volatile artist David and cagey lawyer Kevin. They consider their father’s death a closed book and deny any friendship with Barry, whom they describe as needy and clinging. So do Roger Corbett and John Chadwell, the Taylor boys’ childhood pals. Kevin’s wife Stephanie remembers Barry as a pest whose crush on her was laughable. And Samuel Bergman, now happily remarried, is prospering in his new shop in the Grand Arcade in Cambridge. So Paget can’t get any traction on the case, even when someone tries to set Aunt Jane’s house ablaze, nearly killing Claire. It isn’t until more corpses crop up that Paget, aided by DS John Tregalles and DC Molly Forsythe, can piece together a motive for a crime as shocking as it is venal.
Smith’s quick pacing and clever clueing will delight both procedural fans and cold-case bloodhounds.