Hannah Scarlett’s Cold Case Review Team has exactly one week to solve a 20-year-old mystery.
For someone who wants justice for her long-vanished brother Callum, Orla Payne is distressingly inefficient. In her first phone call to the Cumbria Constabulary, her hysterical tone alienates DCI Hannah Scarlett (The Serpent Pool, 2010, etc.); she hangs up on her second call in fury when she doesn’t reach Hannah; and shortly after, she’s found smothered to death in a grain silo on her father’s farm. Although the forensic evidence points to suicide, Mike Hinds, baffled and furious, can’t imagine why his daughter came home to top herself. Her suicide seems especially puzzling since she’d recently waxed so frantic about the fate of her brother, long assumed to have been murdered by Mike’s brother Philip, who ended the earlier investigation by killing himself. So Hannah, briskly putting off Marc Amos, the ex-lover who’d like to patch up their differences, wangles a week from her imperious boss, the aptly named ACC Lauren Self, to investigate. The histories of the leading families involved—the parvenu Madsens, whose holdings include a local park for recreational vehicles; the Hopes clan, impoverished gentry who’ve kept themselves afloat by marrying into the Madsens and annexing their estate, Mockbeggar Hall, to the RV park; and the blighted Hinds family—are so rich in suspicious behavior and dark secrets that a week scarcely seems enough. Will Hannah and historian Daniel Kind, the friend who doesn’t seem to notice that he’s supposed to take Marc’s place, beat the deadline?
Reliable Lake District family intrigue from a seasoned pro.