Each season brings its own tribulation to the “hard north” of England. In spring, swells of melted snow twist streams right out of their beds to run across pastures and farmland. Yorkshire farmer John Brand is used to the rising water, but not to finding human bones in the wake of the flood. Forensic pathologist Louise D’Acre’s examination reveals the skeleton of a woman in her 40s, the mother of several children, dead at least a decade. And the corpse’s dental evidence corresponds to the records of Amanda Dunney, a hospice nurse and lifelong spinster who disappeared 12 years ago after being sacked for withholding pain medication from her dying patients. So it’s up to York’s DCI George Hennessey and DC Somerled Yellich (The Return, 2001, etc.) to follow a long-ago trail cold by reopening missing-persons cases and examining Amanda’s spare, nearly friendless life. Both men have their own baggage. Yellich protects his vulnerable wife and handicapped son from the ugliness of his work; Hennessey eases the pain of widowhood by sporadic interludes with Dr. D’Acre. But as their search leads to missing wife Amy Lepping, whose daughter Sara died in Nurse Dunney’s care, and later to Marian Cox, who went to Leeds 12 years ago in search of her brother and never came back, the two become quintessential detectives whose one goal is to hunt down a killer.
Yellich and Hennessey are good enough company to cast a sense of urgency over their by-the-book detection.