A favor for his ex takes retired cop Frank Elder from Cornwall to Nottingham.
He could have refused her, but Frank Elder once more does what his ex-wife asks, this time helping out her friend Jennie, whose widowed sister Claire Meecham had gone missing. Middle-aged, conventional, still grieving for her husband after five years, Claire was not one to scamper away. Frank checks in with his old mates at the Major Crime Unit, now called the Force Crime Directorate, but they have nothing to add. Though he does find a few revelatory bits—a sexy photo and a sex toy hidden in Claire’s bureau, log-ins to online dating services—Frank is stymied. Then Claire’s body suddenly appears, strangled in her own bed. Viewing the corpse with DI Maureen Prior, Frank harks back to his very first case, the murder of Irene Fowler eight years ago, which went unsolved. The similarities, including the perversely respectful way the bodies were left, suggest a single killer. Prior’s squad trawls through the old files for clues while Frank, an unpaid consultant, concentrates on interviewing the men Claire found online until he uncovers a fatal link between the victims.
Yes, Charlie Resnick makes a cameo appearance, but Frank (Ash & Bone, 2005, etc.), with his guilt, his regrets, his worrisome relationships with his wife and daughter, is surely developing his own fan base and giving both Charlie and John Rebus a run for their money.