Kentish detectives’ upcoming nuptials are disrupted by murder, rape and antiques.
Caffy, one-half of Pact (Paula and Caffy’s team) Restoration, has left her life of drug use and petty crime behind and now is an ace builder. So detail-oriented is she that she’s the only one to spot an irregular patch in the garden of the rectory that’s the future home of Detective Chief Superintendent Fran Harman and Assistant Chief Constable Mark Turner (Still Waters, 2008, etc.). When the hard ground yields up its obligatory skeleton, the building is cordoned off as a crime scene. With their love nest sealed up under the watchful eye of DI Kim Thomas, Mark and Fran look to move back to Mark’s house in Loose, only to be rebuffed by his daughter Sammie, who’s left her husband, moved in with her two kids and changed all of the locks. Sammie enlists the trans-Atlantic support of brother Dave, who flies in from the U.S. to persuade his dad not to remarry. In the meantime, the Rev. Janie Falkirk, Mark and Fran’s officiant, develops cancer. Before her mastectomy, she asks Fran to look into the claim of young parishioner Cynd that she was raped and dispatched her assailant with a knife. Once Cynd, also a drug user and hooker, does a runner, Fran has no perpetrator and no victim for either crime. The rectory murder also hits a wall, since former owner Marion Lovage seems to have left no papers, no mementos and no past at all, except for some marvelous old furniture. So, Fran calls on furniture restorer Lina Townend to unlock the mysterious Ms. Lovage’s writing cabinet in hope of unlocking the decades-old mystery.
Cozier than most British procedurals, Cutler’s fourth Harman entry will please readers who prefer their malice domestic.