Painter-turned-detective Chris Honeysett (Worthless Remains, 2017, etc.) hunts for his missing model.
It’s not clear whether Honeysett sets up Aqua Investigations to supplement his small earnings as a painter or whether he teaches life classes to pad out his meager income as sleuth. In either case, he shows a polymath’s ability to turn on a dime. This time, he’s in the middle of a job for Giles Haarbottle of Griffins, who wants him to find former client Henry Blinkhorn. Blinkhorn’s alleged widow received death benefits from the insurer six years ago. But a picture turned up recently in The Angler of a resurrected Henry fishing for trout at Rainbow Lodge Fisheries. Honeysett sets up surveillance near Janette Blinkhorn’s posh home but finds it so tedious that as soon as his partner, fellow painter Annis Jordan, takes off to paint a mural on a rich guy’s swimming pool, he gives up his surveillance to bake cakes for the students in his painting classes. His pastry skills get shoved to the side when his life model, Verity Lake, disappears, and he chucks both the Haarbottle job and his students to chase after her. At a nearby Travelers’ camp he hears that Verity may be out on the canal that runs through Bath. After bicycling along the towpath leaves him soaked by an unexpected storm, he borrows a narrowboat from his mechanic, Jake, and learns to pilot it through the intricate system of locks that crisscross the English countryside, meeting a host of colorful fellow narrowboaters on his way.
Helton puts his multitalented hero through his paces with typical disdain for either the problem that got him started or the goal he hopes to reach. For readers who think the pleasure’s in the journey.