A Cumbrian police inspector back on the job under false colors tracks the killer of a woman who seems to have been flying under false colors for much of her life.
If it hadn’t been for rent boy Darren Ackley, who saw someone dumping a body at a construction site adjacent to West Cumberland Hospital, the victim would have become an unremembered part of the foundation. As it is, DI Avison Fluke knows the woman was buried in a golf bag and eventually discovers she was shot execution-style after a dose of Rohypnol that marks her recent sex as anything but consensual. But the name she’s been using, Samantha Farrar, doesn’t tell him a thing. Apart from William Robinson, a neighbor who kept an eye on her, she seems to have had no friends, no relatives, no one on Earth to mourn her. And the multiple rounds of cosmetic surgery she’d undergone, each of them making her less attractive, makes it clear that she was on the run from someone she feared. Fluke’s only other clues are an injunction from Nathaniel Diamond, a family match for the DNA extracted from the corpse, to look into the victim more closely and an apparatus she’d fitted to wake her if she wet the bed. It’s not much to go on, and Fluke, already walking a fine line after forging the medical clearance that allowed him to return to work after his debilitating treatments for lymphoma, has to battle to give the case his full attention. But his focus on the dictum “find out how the victim lived, and you’ll find out how they died” pays off in spades.
Craven (Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody, Challenge Everything, 2015) provides everything you want in a British procedural: a dark world, a tangled case, a clear and logical solution, and a deeply flawed hero who’s still well worth rooting for.