The motive for a Yorkshire girl’s disappearance lies buried with another local girl a century dead.
Ten years after a domestic-violence case gone horribly wrong drove him from the police force, Rick Rounder is back from far-off Queensland. Accompanied by his bemused black girlfriend Naomi, he’s determined to lay his ghosts and make his way by hanging out his shingle as a private eye. Chief Inspector Sam Rounder, who wouldn’t be likely to welcome his baby brother back home in any event, has his hands full with the kidnapping of Polly Markham, snatched from outside her house by a man who killed the family dog. Even when the self-styled amateur historian identifies himself in a stunningly unforeseeable scene, his confession only deepens the mystery: He’s taken Polly because he “wanted to put things right” for the death of nine-year-old Esme Percy in 1901. Can Sam Rounder’s force find Polly before she’s as dead as her spectral twin? Their investigation would be a lot simpler if Rick Rounder’s very first case, the routine shadowing of Will Wistow’s adulterous wife to gather evidence for a divorce, didn’t keep getting him into waves of trouble from unexpected sources.
The cliffhanger endings Rick’s adventures supply are likely to distract readers along with the Yorkshire constabulary. Yet Cole’s debut novel rings so many fresh changes on the echoes-of-the-past thriller that even more readers will welcome the series it introduces.