Could the lowlifes who nearly killed DCI Elaine Hope in her first case (Souls of Men, 2017) be back to finish the job?
The Kensington district of London is beyond the reach of most murderers. So the appearance of a mutilated corpse outside an upscale flat is doubly outrageous, especially since a tattoo he bears seems to link him to Anton Srecko, the Serbian gangster whose lasting enmity Elaine guaranteed when she killed his brother, Nilo, who beat and stabbed and raped her and tried to do more. The only upper-class links new DS Simon Costello and DC Philip Bull can find in the new case are witnesses’ accounts of a barefoot blonde fleeing the scene. The blonde is indeed more posh than they can imagine: She’s Lady Fiona Paternoster, the aristocratic gallery owner who’d been brought to the scene by Jacko O’Rourke, the lover of her husband, the Metropolitan Police's Cmdr. Jonathan Hughes. As Elaine, who’s warned off the case in no uncertain terms, works secretly with Costello and Bull to identify the fleeing blonde, Ashworth raises a host of questions. What was she doing at the scene in the first place? Why did the killer allow her to escape? What connection does Jonny Hughes have to the murder? Who is the victim, and why was he killed? Were the shadowy forces behind his execution members of IRG, Srecko’s Serbian gang, or duly constituted officers of the law? And which of the many officers Elaine works with are actually working against her? Some of these questions turn out not to be very important; others, frustratingly, never get answered. Instead, Ashworth focuses on the uncomfortable parallels between the detective and her suspect, both of them victims of an awful lot of men behaving badly.
Not much mystery, not much suspense, but a mountain of sadness and suspicion on behalf of a pair of hard-used women too tough to whine themselves.