An offer he can’t refuse takes Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond from his accustomed perch at the Avon and Somerset Police to a seaside town in Sussex, all in the worst company he can imagine.
The summons comes from Diamond’s boss, Assistant Chief Constable Georgina Dallymore. An anonymous letter has accused the senior investigating officer at the Chichester CID of improperly handling a criminal investigation. After the SIO’s niece, Jocelyn Green, was picked up on a drunk-and-disorderly charge after a fight with another woman, a routine check of her DNA matched that found in the stolen car in which the Chichester coppers found the murdered body of self-employed gardener Joe Rigden back in 2007. DCI Henrietta Mallin, the officer in question, didn’t follow up this obvious lead, perhaps because car thief Danny Stapleton was already clapped up as an accessory to the murder, and now she’s in hot water. Hoping to rekindle her flirtation with Cmdr. Archie Hahn, the old flame who’s asked for help from outside the local CID in sifting the evidence against Mallin, Georgina demands that Diamond accompany her, giving him visions of living in uncomfortably close quarters and dickering endlessly over who’s in charge. The situation is even more awkward than Georgina knows, for two reasons. Hen Mallin is an old mate of Diamond’s, one he’s extremely reluctant to investigate. And the recent disappearance of Constance Gibbon, the much-disliked art teacher at the nearby Priory Park School, suggests new skullduggery Georgina certainly won’t want to look into, even in the unlikely event that Hahn authorizes a look. Moving slowly and patiently, Diamond eventually pulls all the threads together, no thanks to his boss.
The conscientious mystery is satisfying enough, but it’s the increasingly complicated relationship between Georgina and Diamond (The Stone Wife, 2014, etc.) that’s most memorable.