What better way to take down a fast-rising colleague, and a girl at that, than to send her off on a real time-waster, the latest floater clogging up the Thames? But eager, impassioned DI Jessie Driver of the West End Central CID, with the help of PC Nial Ahmet, discovers it’s not a simple accident or even a suicide—how could it be when the corpse is missing her hands, feet, and head, and what bones remain have been dipped in acid? Identified by her silicone implants, the lass turns out to be Verity Shaw, the much-wed, druggie actress wife of rock heartthrob P.J. Dean. Despite Jessie’s best efforts, the tabloids swarm in, and Ray St. Giles, a chat-show host with an unsavory past, fans the hysteria with a segment featuring blimp-sized true crime writer Henrietta Cadell and her handsome but creepy gossip columnist son Joshua. When avant-garde artist Eve Wirrel and game-show emcee Cary Conrad die, every creative bloke in London locks the doors. Although P.J. and his unmarried housekeeper seem to be keeping some dark secret, and her son’s looks favor P.J., Jessie, finding herself attracted to P.J., refuses to accuse him. Meanwhile, her splashily theatrical flatmate Maggie is having a fling with Joshua, which puts her smack in the killer’s sights. One more will die before Jessie and Nial have the perp in hand blubbering for help—and his mum.
A classy, extremely proficient American debut for Longworth, with solid plotting, believable CID rivalries, and an admirable heroine in Jessie.