Dr. Alice Quentin is back, and she’s involved in another series of murders, this time in the financial world.
Police investigator Don Burns, who at last sighting (Crossbones Yard, 2013) was Quentin’s foil at the London Metropolitan Police, is newly single and has slimmed down, toned up and quit smoking. Now he’s knocking on Alice’s door because the Met has a case they can’t solve without her. This time, someone is killing off individuals associated with the Angel Bank, leaving behind a picture of an angel and a sprinkling of white feathers with each body. Alice, a psychologist, is brought in to assist. Soon, she is neck deep in the investigation and flirting with a new romance, but first she must move past her aversion to relationships. As the murderer keeps racking up kills, Alice’s wandering, drug-addled brother, cold and withdrawn mother, and requisite beautiful and zany best friend are brought in to spice up the frequently plodding story. Many of the secondary characters are over-the-top, most notably an officer assigned to the case who dislikes her on sight and comes across as a cartoonish, sneering Snidely Whiplash. While the prose is adequate, the author often opts for the obvious over the subtle. The fact that London is in a heat wave, which is incidental to the story, is mentioned repetitively, as is a case from the author’s previous novel, which is often referenced but never explained. Readers will find it difficult to sympathize with Alice when she elects not to report a patient who physically attacked and is now stalking her. Though the glimpse of London caught in the grips of a financial downturn and filled with a population trapped in its sweltering environs proves interesting enough, not everyone will find that the setting redeems the lackluster plot.
A so-so outing that won’t win Dr. Alice Quentin additional literary followers.