Pathologist John Eisenmenger, his live-in solicitor Helena Flemming and his friend-plus DI Beverley Wharton—none of whom ever seems to have a case that seems remotely normal (The Rest Is Silence, 2007, etc.)—are stretched to their limits in their sixth.
To save money for the baby his favorite solicitor is expecting, Eisenmenger (“Doctor Death”) takes a position as locum at St. Christopher’s University Hospital. So he’s the one to examine the remains of Edward Melnick, and he’s the one to defy iron-fisted mediocrity Arnold Throckmorton, the head of pathology, by voicing the suspicion that the retired policeman-turned-inquiry agent didn’t die a natural death. Meanwhile, the pregnancy Eisenmenger’s troubled job is financing has ended prematurely and disastrously, leaving Helena clinically depressed and dependent on psychologist Harriet Worringer for help. DI Wharton has her own problems. Her dogged investigation of Dr. Adam Dreifus’s Atopia clinic, whose financial manager Anita Delorme has just been shotgunned to death, is undermined by her sidekick Larry Grover, an impossibly dogmatic and unhelpful new sergeant. When a second death that doesn’t look suspicious to anyone but Eisenmenger implicates Atopia and Dreifus still further, he crosses the line into lawbreaking in hopes of doing justice. Justice at length is done, along with a great deal of collateral damage.
McCarthy mixes his trademark gripping forensics with a baffling puzzle that spins off twist after twist and agonizing dilemmas for his regulars—all in all, the complete mystery package.