A suspicious fire that claims three lives—no, make that four—in a high-rise London housing project provides a sixth case for DC Maeve Kerrigan (The Kill, 2015, etc.).
DCI Una Burt, Kerrigan’s acting boss, is attracted to the case not only because one of the casualties—MP Geoff Armstrong, who apparently took the trouble to empty his pockets of his cellphone and identifying papers before plunging to his death from a 10th-floor window in Murchison House—has such a high profile, but because no one can imagine what such a race-baiting conservative would have been doing in Maudling Estate in the first place. Kerrigan, predictably, is drawn more strongly to Melissa Pell, a woman who, with her young son, had fled an abusive husband to take shelter in Murchison House only to get severely beaten by an unknown assailant after the fire broke out; to Mary Hearn, an elderly widow who survived the blaze but suffered an incapacitating stroke; and to the two unidentified girls who died locked in a closet in a neighboring flat. Nor can she forget the toxic family of self-styled “handyman” Carl Bellew, whose survival seems more nuisance than mercy. Throwing herself into the investigation despite her love/hate relationship with DI Josh Derwent, her continued dread of Chris Swain, the predator bent on her destruction, and the daunting news that Armstrong was strangled before he went out that window, Kerrigan comes up trumps, which is a lot more than you can say for Murchison House.
Rococo plotting effectively tamed by Kerrigan’s cleareyed narration. If you think there are too many perps wandering the halls, it’s obvious that you’ve never lived in a place like Maudling Estate.