The murder of an inoffensive home health visitor is only the tip of the iceberg in London psychologist Frieda Klein’s third case—and a very chilly iceberg it is, too.
No one in Ruth Lennox’s family can understand why she was savagely beaten to death in her own home. DCI Malcolm Karlsson reluctantly accepts the evidence that the killing at Chalk Farm was a burglary gone wrong, and, sure enough, there’s a burglar; but he produces an alibi (another burglary, naturally) that clears him of Ruth’s murder. As Russell Lennox and his three children begin to disintegrate under the pressure, Karlsson is more and more tempted to call on Frieda, even though her consulting contract has been canceled after the high-mortality finale of her last investigation (Tuesday’s Gone, 2013). By the time Frieda finally enters the case—not as a consultant, but as the aunt of a friend of Ted Lennox, Ruth’s 18-year-old son—another stew is already simmering. Aging reporter Jim Fearby, who’s been watching apprehensively as a new appeal frees George Conley 10 years after he was convicted of strangling Hazel Barton, wonders who killed Hazel if it wasn’t Conley. Since the police seem convinced they got the right man the first time, Fearby goes hunting on his own and soon links Hazel to half a dozen other young women who vanished under similar circumstances. Meanwhile, Frieda has become obsessed with tracking down the source of an anecdote one of her patients presented as his own memory. Her inquiries will eventually connect with Fearby’s and Karlsson’s but not before more dead ends, false confessions and unwelcome revelations than you can imagine, or perhaps desire.
French’s darkly ambitious tale piles on the complications until you beg for mercy. Hard-core fans of detective work as a vehicle for revealing the depths of the human soul will find it irresistible.