An Oxford private enquiry agent with a distinct aversion to death takes on a series of adversaries with no such scruples.
Zoë Boehm came by her fear of death honestly by shooting a man determined to kill her (Down Cemetery Road, not reviewed). Ever since, she’s done her best to avoid the dead in her professional practice, preferring commissions like returning 12-year-old runaway Dig, né Andrew Kite, to his distraught family. Now death has found Zoë out, despite her best efforts. The week that acquitted bullion robber and cop killer Charles Parsley Sturrock finally gets his quietus, Zoë’s shocked to learn that Wensley Deepman, the nasty little boy who took Dig under his wing three years ago, has died as well in a highly suspicious fall from a tower block. So Zoë’s in no mood to trace Alan Talmadge, the new boyfriend of Caroline Daniels, who failed to show up for her funeral and hasn’t been heard from since. But Caroline’s boss, troubleshooter Amory Grayling, is so gently persistent and his late secretary so sadly appealing in her loneliness that Zoë can’t say no. All too soon she’s sorry she couldn’t, as Herron draws the three creepy deaths together in unexpected and satisfying ways.
The engaging heroine never loses her cool, from the melancholy opening to the whirlwind finale, a marvelously extended set-piece showing what happens when determined killers hunt for somebody equally determined to not be found.