Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford’s stellar 19th case hinges on the disappearance of a pair of teenagers and their babysitter.
Torrential rains have swelled the Kingsbrook beyond its banks, and all over Kingsmarkham the waters are rising. As Dora Wexford worries whether their garden and house will escape the flood, her husband is called to the home of Roger and Katrina Dade, who awoke the morning after they’d returned from a weekend away to find that Giles, 15, and Sophie, 13, weren’t asleep in their beds, and Katrina’s friend Joanna Troy, whom they’d left in charge of the children, had vanished as well. Have they all drowned, or do a T-shirt of Giles’s and a dental crown that might be Joanna’s point to a still darker fate? Roger’s missing car is discovered a week later with a corpse inside, but, in a cruelly comical twist, Peter Buxton, the rising media tycoon who finds it, neglects to report it to the authorities. So Wexford and Inspector Mike Burden (Harm Done, 1999, etc.) start digging into the backgrounds of Katrina and the Dades, and their discoveries give a new spin to the term “family values.” Long before the final stunning (and unguessable) surprise, Wexford’s had to face the likelihood that whatever became of Giles and Sophie, they were anything but babes in the wood.
Sex, drugs, religious mania, dysfunctional families—and not even Wexford’s own domestic circle is safe this time.