Mark Turner and Fran Harman, the crime-solving couple from Burying the Past (2012), will take all the help they can get as they try to solve competing cases in a posh Kentish town.
Although a mental breakdown forced Mark Turner to retire as Ashford’s acting chief constable, nothing can stop him from being a cop, especially when a tennis instructor’s 4-year-old-daughter, Livvie, vanishes from a tennis club. Mark immediately contains the scene and alerts the police that a child may be missing. He knows he can count on his fiancee, Fran Harman, who’s the chief superintendent of the Ashford police. Fran is working on cold cases while she waits for a broken leg to heal, and when she and her team discover the skeletons of young adults in a building that was a center for troubled teens 20 years earlier, she withholds the information from the press so that Livvie’s case will be the main media focus. While Mark tries to help investigate Livvie’s disappearance without overstepping his unfamiliar new role as a civilian, Fran struggles with office politics and the mystery of why one of her detective inspectors who took unexpected leave is now out of communication altogether. The two cases turn not just on small pieces of apparently unrelated evidence, but also on the shrewd minds and intuitive skills of the mature lovebirds who labor to plan a wedding in the midst of crimes old and new.
Fran and Mark make a good team both inside their historic home and out in the field. A single loose end and a gooey conclusion are the only strikes against Cutler’s balance of high crime and cuddly domesticity.