A pseudo-futuristic world features two detectives investigating the death of a man no one had reason to kill.
Bailey begins the second in this series (The Red Queen Dies, 2013) with a note explaining that, although the setting of the book is 2020, the reader should think of the story as taking place in an alternate world where most things are the same but some are not, adding that this book should be considered “a work of crime fiction, not science fiction.” Any reader who is not put off by this peculiar assertion and premise will continue on to a fictionalized version of Albany, New York, in which Detective Hannah McCabe and partner Mike Baxter are charged with investigating the death of harmless funeral director Kevin Novak, who was shot with a bow and arrow inside his own funeral home. There’s nothing very suspicious about what’s happened except for the lack of suspects who might want to do Kevin harm. Medium Olive Cooper offers her help with the case by hosting a séance to which she invites the detectives and Kevin’s family. When this turns out to be more dramatic than Hannah had bargained for, she tries to follow up to find out if there were secrets in Kevin’s life that are responsible for his murder. Her attentions are distracted, however, when there’s a shocking death related to the perp from her last case, making Hannah wonder if the two might be related.
The distracting alternate future seems like the kind of thing that might have been dreamed up by someone writing about 2020 in 1970, not 2015. The plot is confusingly unrelated to the setting and is standard procedural fare, though a hook at the end portends better developments in the future.