Family life can be messy, DCI Neil Paget (A Killing Resurrected, 2011, etc.) finds, when a retired surgeon’s stepdaughter is brutally murdered.
When Charles Bromley left his London practice for the country, he’d hoped to find escape from the scandal that erupted when young Antonia Halliday accused him of deliberately botching her father’s surgery so that he could marry his rich, beautiful widow Margaret. But now Toni’s back, trying to patch things up with her mother and, Charles suspects, wheedle her way into the fund Margaret holds in trust for her. So he’s not really sorry when local farmer Bob Thorsen, in search of his dog Toby, finds Toni’s body in the Bromley Manor barn. He is sorry, though, for all this fuss the investigation causes—so sorry he complains to Chief Superintendent Brock, who warns Paget to rein it in. But Paget wants to learn much more about this peculiar household. Why, for instance, did Charles’ brother Paul flee the scene on the night of Toni’s murder? What connection did Charles’ son, Julian, have with Toni and with her newly announced pregnancy? Why does Elizabeth Etherton, the sister of Charles’ first wife, still live with them? And most of all, why has housemaid Gwyneth Jones, who was likely in the barn the night of Toni’s murder, disappeared?
Smith takes the usual elements—dogged investigator, loyal subordinates, interfering boss, family plagued with secrets—and combines them to produce the usual result.