The second in a series of mystery novels set in 1990s England.
Greene (The Darkening Sky, 2014) brings back the unlikely crime-solving duo of psychiatrist Carl Power and police superintendent Lynch. When cabinet minister Sir Ian McWilliam is murdered by arson, the young woman who wrote him a series of passionate letters is charged with the crime, but after interviewing her, Power believes she’s innocent. He enlists the help of his friend Lynch, and the two begin digging up evidence even though neither one of them is officially assigned to the case. Power gets to know McWilliam’s daughter and son and learns some shocking details from the accused arsonist. He and Lynch make headway on the case, but things suddenly take a turn for the worse. The case reaches a dead end until a dream Power has leads him to make an important discovery, but following up on the lead will put the psychiatrist in harm’s way. An abrupt, shocking conclusion is ambiguous enough to leave room for a sequel. Though readers of the first book in the series will enjoy the further adventures of Power and Lynch, few characters return in this sequel, which can be read as a stand-alone novel. Power’s former girlfriend is absent; instead, there’s a hint of romance between Power and Sir McWilliam’s daughter, though their potential relationship is complicated by the nature of the case and the timing of events. This time around, there’s less interaction between Power and Lynch, though Power plays a larger role in both the case and the novel, conducting a fair amount of investigative work on his own and offering occasional psychiatric observations. This book—which, somewhat oddly, once again features occasional black-and-white cartoon-style illustrations—tends to be more action oriented than introspective, and as a result, it moves quickly. That said, the cliffhanger ending may frustrate some readers.
This fast-paced murder mystery is a well-executed blend of police procedural and amateur sleuthing.