Deputy Chief Inspector Mark Lapslie is called back from the medical leave he’s been granted as he struggles to cope with his synaesthesia to handle a case of serial poisoning and identity theft.
Lapslie, who registers sound as taste, has withdrawn from his family, unable to bear the constant flood of tastes everyday noise brings. Unable to work except in a quiet room, he’s surprised to get a call directing him to a car crash. At the scene, DS Emma Bradbury reveals that the crash has unearthed the body of a woman missing several fingers. An autopsy indicates that the woman was poisoned, and her dentures quickly reveal her identity. Still puzzled about why he’s been assigned the case, he and Bradbury investigate the victim’s life and soon discover that someone is using her name. Violet is probably the latest in a string of lonely older women whose identity and property have been snatched up by the poisoner. The sleuths’ patient research leads them to the horror of a house where 12 bodies are arranged at a table set for tea. As the hunt proceeds, Lapslie finds someone in authority doesn’t want the killer arrested.
Alternate chapters are written from the viewpoint of the murderer, leaving no doubt who’s guilty. But Lapslie’s quest and the mystery behind it are reason enough to make this chiller from McCrery (Silent Witness, 1998, etc.) a must read.