A grave injury to DCI Monika Paniatowski (Death in Disguise, 2016, etc.) sends her team scrambling to find who hurt their boss and why.
Stamford Hall seems the ideal spot for a Sunday family picnic—at least until PC Michael Knightly’s two young daughters find Monika lying in the woods in a pool of blood. Knightly, instantly recognizing her as one of the few female DCIs on the force, sends a quick alarm back to headquarters. Acting Chief Constable Ronald Pickering’s response is equally brisk. Whom can he task with investigating the brutal beating of one of his own? Bypassing Monika’s team of Colin Beresford, Kate Meadows, and Jack Crane, Pickering calls on DCI William “Rhino” Dixon, a man as tenacious as his name suggests—and just as delicate. Dixon is all over the case, especially when the body of teenager Mary Green is found not far from the scene of Monika’s attack. But while Dixon bangs down doors and rousts young hoodlums, Beresford et al. prefer to look more quietly into Mary’s home life. Her brother, John, seems grief-stricken, but their parents are oddly detached. So are the other inhabitants of Mary’s small world: Mrs. Brown, the bedridden old woman she cared for, and Roger Smith, the middle-aged man John was playing board games with the day his sister was killed. Convinced that the answer to her death lies in Mary’s past, Monika’s colleagues push to find her killer before the hard-charging Rhino arrests the wrong man.
Sidelining her series heroine gives Spencer a chance to prove just how strong the DCI is, even as she lies unconscious in a hospital bed.