A string of bizarre, destructive burglaries end in death when the owner of an engineering firm is found bludgeoned in her bed.
There’s no doubt that Laura Holbrook (née Southern) took Holbrook Micro-Engineering Labs from the brink of bankruptcy to financial success. And there’s no doubt that part of the project’s appeal lay in getting its founder, Simon Holbrook, to throw over her sister Susan and marry her. Possessive of her prize, Laura warns neighbor Moira Ballantyne, one of Simon’s former mistresses, quite publicly to stay away from her man. She’s equally domineering at the firm, where she sacks Simon’s nephew, slacker Tim Bryce, and demotes his faithful assistant Peggy Goodwin. Even so, when Simon and Moira’s husband Trevor, having left the ladies home to go off to the movies, return to find Laura dead, her murder seems at first to be the work of local burglars. The MO is the same: lots of damage, little of value missing and clumps of dog hair scattered around the scene. But Scene Of Crime Officer Grace Lovett has her doubts. And the closer DCI Neil Paget (Breaking Point, 2008, etc.) looks, the more something seems off. Soon he and DS John Tregalles, along with DS Len Ormside and up-and-comer Molly Forsythe, are questioning suspects, checking alibis and searching for motive in what may not be a random act of violence.
Veteran Smith’s procedural offers plenty of puzzle for the suspense aficionado.