Carnford Divisional Headquarters has its collective knickers in a knot over the disappearance of a farmer’s wife.
From the moment Fiona Ross of Gin Gin, Australia, corners PC Curtis, demanding that he explain why her good friend Gillian Harvey would fail to meet her at the airport, the push is on to investigate what may or may not be a crime. Curtis punts to DC Miles, whose vocational training equips him better than Curtis to deal with indignant dowagers. Miles reports to DI Tait, who dispatches Peter Dowling to the hamlet of Brecton Without to interview Gillian’s husband Tom. He can barely pry himself from his prize Friesians to offer evasive answers about his wife’s purported trip to stay with unnamed friends for a visit of unspecified duration. Tom’s responses are so unsatisfactory that Tait sends DC Jenner to interview his even more monosyllabic housekeeper, Mrs. Spens. Nettled by her taciturnity, he sends Miles off to Perce Hall with a flea in his ear to speak to Wade, a casual farm worker sometimes employed by the Harveys, and Tyler to The Grange to try to scare up Minnehaha, described by Mrs. Spens as a “hippy” who helped with the cows. The exchanges grow ever more arch and less informative as Tait longs to find out what’s beneath the fresh cement Harvey poured as a foundation for his new feed barn.
Someone should tell Ashford (A Dangerous Friendship, 2008, etc.) that sarcasm is no substitute for suspense.