Is the hanging of a young mother suicide or murder?
Late one night, Gerry and Anne Barham nearly run over their 6-year-old neighbor, Joanna Ferguson, as they pull into their driveway in the English seaside village of Instow. Anne takes the girl home to discover a horrific scene. The story flashes back almost three weeks to depict Jane Ferguson’s recent neurotic behavior, her apparent descent into mental illness, and Felix Ferguson’s distress. When Jane’s body is found hanged back in the present, DI David Vogel (Wheel of Fire, 2018, etc.) is roused from sleep to undertake the investigation. Felix is not at home. Gerry Barham reports that Felix, commodore of the local yacht club, has been drinking heavily lately. Vogel questions Jane’s mother-in-law, Amelia, who assumes it was suicide, as Jane was “never happy,” and freely admits that their relationship was not close. Felix appears in the middle of this interview, disheveled and drowsy after celebrating the anniversary of his position at the yacht club and intending to crash at his parents’ home. Felix tells Vogel about his wife’s struggles; Vogel in turn informs Felix that he’s a suspect. The arrival of Felix’s blunt father, Sam, who’s as disdainful of Jane as Amelia, completes one part of the picture. Medical examiner Karen Crow can’t determine whether Jane’s death was murder or suicide, and several bruises on her body arouse Vogel’s suspicions. When Vogel approaches Miriam Thorpe, Jane’s therapist, for insights, she confirms much of Felix’s account. But Vogel keeps coming back to those bruises. Will they lead him to a killer?
A crisply written crime novel that methodically reveals the pieces of a complex puzzle, effectively challenging armchair sleuths.