A welcome return for Brendy McCusker, the rent-a-cop who used to work for the Ulster Constabulary, and DI Lily O’Carroll, who still does.
Louis Bloom went to take out a bag of trash five minutes before the 9 PM television screening of The Fall and never returned. Normally his disappearance wouldn’t be investigated for two days, but his wife, Elizabeth, is the sister of Angela Larkin, whose husband is Superintendent Niall Larkin of the Ulster Royal Constabulary—or the Police Service of Northern Ireland, as it’s now called. So Lily and McCusker both get rousted from their beds in the dead of night to question the newly distressed wife and begin preliminary investigations. These quickly lead to a simple explanation of why Louis Bloom never came home: He’s lying stabbed to death in the nearby Friar’s Bush graveyard. Who would have wanted to kill an inoffensive lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast whose specialization was “The Politics of Love”? Maybe Al Armstrong, the platonic but exceedingly close friend Elizabeth asks to come over even before Lily and McCusker arrive. Maybe Bloom’s own friend Mariana Fitzgerald, a former escort who proves, along with her friend Murcia Woyda, that marrying one of your wealthy clients and retiring from the escort game is no guarantee of happily ever after. Maybe his administrative assistant, the whimsically named Leab David, who’s clearly having an affair with another of his colleagues at QUB. In the end, though, whodunit matters less than the many individual scenes Charles (One of Our Jeans Is Missing, 2016, etc.) crafts with such a careful eye on the sparks that can fly—some of them charming, some witty, some downright menacing—between characters who don’t happen to see eye to eye, or sometimes even to be operating in the same galaxy.
Once again, it’s hard to resist a hero who realizes, “He just had a habit of opening his mouth and not knowing what was going to come out.”