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BACKLASH by Sally Spencer

BACKLASH

By Sally Spencer

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8055-0
Publisher: Severn House

DCI Monika Paniatowski (Echoes of the Dead, 2011, etc.) is saddled with yet another case that threatens to end her career.

To a man, the Whitebridge police think of Thomas Kershaw as a good bobby. And that includes Monika. But as a woman, she’s found the Chief Superintendent a bad boss ever since he failed to stem the tide of obscene pictures sent to her anonymously when she was just a sergeant. Her uncomfortable history with Kershaw complicates her assignment of finding his wife, who disappeared from their stately Victorian home while recuperating from a bout of flu. Nearly deranged by fear that his beloved Elaine will be harmed, Kershaw interferes repeatedly with the investigation, sending staffers to read files of his old cases; viewing the body of a young woman found dead after a similar disappearance; and interviewing a former sex offender who may have information about Elaine’s whereabouts. But Monika finds it hard to set limits with Kershaw because of both his men’s loyalty and her own antipathy, which makes her seem hopelessly prejudiced against a devoted husband’s frantic efforts to recover his wife. Her previous affair with Chief Constable George Baxter, now happily married, doesn’t help her either, since Baxter wants desperately to avoid being seen as soft on his former lover. So Baxter pushes Monika to find Elaine at all costs, even at the expense of other cases, like the death of prostitute Grace Meade, whose body was shoved into a toilet stall on the moor. Monika resists, putting her job in peril, because she knows that only a detached perspective will help her solve the case.

Spencer’s apparent determination to make Monika an even greater maverick than her predecessor Charlie Woodend threatens to make this appealing series formulaic and predictable.