Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford and his Kingsmarkham colleagues (End in Tears, 2005, etc.) deal with not one but two bodies of men whose relatives long ago gave up hope of ever hearing from them again.
Jim Belbury’s truffle dog makes the first discovery: a man interred 11 years ago in a drainage ditch. John Grimble and his friend Bill Runge had dug the ditch back when Grimble expected permission to replace the tumbledown house on Old Grimble’s Field with four new homes. They filled in the ditch when permission was denied. DI Mike Burden, searching the boarded-up house, finds a second corpse, this one waiting eight years in its underclothes to be found. Ancient former neighbor Irene McNeil tells Wexford that her late husband Ron shot the intruder in self-defense when he brandished a knife, and for a time it seems that the killers may be easier to identify than the victims. New inquiries into open missing-persons cases and repeated conversations with other neighbors—especially dying fantasy novelist Owen Tredown and the two wives, present and past, who live with him—only deepen the mystery. Back in the present, Wexford’s daughter Sheila, cast in the starring role in a film adaptation of Tredown’s most famous book, tries to enlist her father in the battle against the circumcision of young Somali girls in the neighborhood—a episode that at least hints at a happy ending.
Rich, tangled and as sharply observed as ever.