Louisa Barratt, 31, is a six-year veteran of the London police. She’s good at listening, good at writing reports, good (very good) at digressing, good at fending off unsuitable men. She’s currently assigned to the Child Protective Unit, where she’s seen so much more than her share of hard cases like Candy, the 10-year-old whose rapist now insists that he took her for 16 and consenting, that she’s suffering severe compassion fatigue. And she may just have capped a tough week by killing her boss. Certainly, Detective Chief Inspector Fraser MacDonald, scheduled to take over the Sexual Offense and Juvenile Units, had good reason for not showing up his first day on the job: he was dead. And the alley in which his battered body was found was the same place Louisa left her latest unsuitable man, a well-dressed gent who saw her talking to a pair of prostitutes, assumed they were a trio, and didn’t want to admit his error. But since Louisa’s encounter with him ended in another of her trademark digressions, it’s not clear whether she actually killed him—or whether dishy Jim Justice, the constable friend who’s been consulting on the case, is really doing anything at all when he manages to lose the notes of his interview with one of the prostitutes and tells Louisa confidentially that he’s sure nobody will bother to follow up with a woman like that.
Not so much mystery as recovered fictional memory, gamine reminiscence, no-love-lost letter to the world: a sordid, affecting, highly original debut.