Her application to the Criminal Investigation Department rejected, Constable Hazel Best (Kindred Spirits, 2018) has to make do with the surprisingly robust diet of crime the town of Norbold offers, along with perhaps the biggest menace to her personally: a secret admirer.
A day after she gently persuades Trucker Watts, an ex-con member of the Mill Street Maulers, to surrender the knife he was going to use against Benny Price, the council worker who had the temerity to object to the language Trucker was using on the Norbold train, Hazel faces a double whammy: Trucker’s been bashed to death, and an unknown party has left flowers on Hazel’s doorstep. The flowers are followed by upscale chocolates, a photo album and some photos of Hazel, and a nocturnal visit while Hazel is lying in bed. The murder of Trucker is followed by the unnervingly similar bludgeoning of freelance journalist Gillian Mitchell, who recently stopped working on her life of wealthy, iffy Birmingham entrepreneur Leo Harte for reasons that remain obscure. What isn’t obscure is Harte’s relationship to Trucker, who clearly would have loved to work on one of Harte’s sub rosa enterprises and whom Trucker’s friend the Rat identifies as an enemy of Trucker. How do all the pieces of this puzzle fit together, and how can Hazel and her friend Gabriel Ash fit them together before her secret admirer moves on from flowers and sweets to some more possessive and dangerous expression of his regard?
Middling for the series. Veteran readers will beat the heroine to the solution, but they won’t feel that their time in Norbold has been wasted.