For CID coppers Shaw and Valentine (Death Toll, 2011, etc.), an unsolved murder poisons the air 20 years later.
Even after a cyanide pill has done its work, DI Peter Shaw, studying the still, pale face, can readily see how remarkably beautiful Marianne Osbourne had been. Now “bloodless as china,” her face is an exact match for the white duvet that covers her. There’s no note, but George Valentine, Peter’s sergeant with 30 years on the job, tells the world that he knows a suicide when he sees one: Pills are pills, evidence is evidence. Peter takes his point, but certain emanations, vague yet stubborn, in the death room keep him from being persuaded. And of course he’s right not to be. Soon enough, the evidence begins tilting in a different, entirely unexpected direction. Twenty years earlier, an excursion ferryboat that had deposited 75 passengers on an uninhabited pleasure island off the coast of Norfolk returned with only 74. Young lifeguard Shane White had been left behind, murdered, his unsolved death destined to become a famous cold case. How are the two fatalities connected? To begin with, Marianne had been one of the ferryboat’s passengers. Other connections soon develop. Among the most intriguing and bedeviling of these to Shaw and Valentine is the sudden influx of death by cyanide pill.
Not all the details of the complex investigation are equally compelling, but the quality of Kelly’s prose and the ongoing upstairs-downstairs relationship between the two protagonists will propel readers past the dry spots.