Once again, Chief Inspector Charlie Woodend’s superiors hand him a real career-buster: the 30-year-old bludgeoning of salesman Fred Dodds, for which his wife has already been hanged.
Jane Hartley has never believed her mother guilty of her stepfather’s murder. But now Jane, a rising star as Queen’s Counsel, has the clout to have the case reopened over the objections of the prosecutor, Lord Eric Sharpe, who used Margaret Dodds’s conviction to win a seat in Parliament. Woodend’s superiors are delighted to offer him an alternative to the stultifying committee work they’ve assigned him to as punishment for solving a murder (Death of an Innocent, 2002) that implicated both a powerful local businessman and a high-ranking police official—especially a case sure to win him at least one powerful enemy. And despite its vintage, the case still offers some leads. Fred Dodds had his share of enemies, including an ex-partner named Cuthbertson, and Sharpe left his share of loose ends, including the suspicious death of Dodds’s father and the rumors of a rival for Margaret’s affections. But it’s only when Woodend’s sergeant, Monika Paniatowski, starts coming unglued—with outbursts far more vicious than her usual sniping at Bob Rutter, his former sergeant—that Woodend realizes what’s at stake in solving the case and solving it right.
Spencer’s latest is her best: an ingenious puzzle that goes straight to the heart.