Husband-and-wife sleuths reopen a case that almost everyone else wants to keep closed.
Mark Turner and Fran Harman have recently married and retired from their local police force in Kent. Upon returning from their honeymoon, they realize they miss the intellectual challenge of police work. They agree to be consultants for the West Mercia Police in the case of Natalie Foreman, a football player’s wife who abandoned a badly deformed baby boy in a car and disappeared with her older son in a snowstorm 20 years ago. By the time Fran and Mark arrive, a recent merger of regional police has pushed the high-ranking officer who wanted them for the case out and Assistant Chief Constable Colin Webster in. The handpicked team and the back-room support Fran and Mark were promised turn out to be three very green officers and a couple of computers; the couple even have to provide their own coffeemaker. Furthermore, Webster is annoyingly unhelpful, the files on Natalie and her son are surprisingly thin, her parents are disturbingly unresponsive, and the original members of the search are mostly retired. The general belief seems to be that Natalie and her son died in the snowstorm. As Mark tells Fran, “You almost feel that it’s not just the locals who don’t want us to investigate properly—it’s the whole environment.” As unexpected rain and overflowing riverbanks turn neighborhoods into islands, floodwaters drive Fran and Mark from two different residences. But the more adversity Fran and Mark face, the more determined they are to find out what really happened to Natalie and her sons.
Although Cutler gets a bit carried away with the number of characters and catastrophes she introduces, Fran and Mark are as likable and capable as they were in their last adventure (Double Fault, 2014).