It takes more than a village to solve a murder when an American visitor is killed in her suite at Whitebridge’s posh Royal Victoria.
Just as DCI Monika Paniatowski’s life with her twins seems to be settling into routine, Acting Chief Constable Keith Pickering pulls her off leave to deal with a sensitive case. Pickering is an evenhanded boss, but he wants his best detective (Thicker Than Water, 2015, etc.) to investigate the death of Mary Edwards, who booked the Prince Albert Suite at Whitebridge’s best hotel. The reason for the dead woman’s visit seems murky at best. Mary, whose passport has unaccountably gone missing, seems to have had two personae: a fashionable blonde New Yorker and a toned-down researcher in a frumpy brown wig. Monika’s appeal to the public yields fruit on both sides of the Atlantic. Lepidopterist Walter Spinks IDs the butterfly tattooed on Mary’s wrist as native to Lancashire. Librarian Janet Dobson spots mousey Mary as the patron doing microfiche research. Solicitor Arthur Tyndale reveals that Mary retained him the week before her death. Perhaps most significantly, New York police detective Fred Mahoney is able to give Monika a clue to Mary’s real identity. But why would Melissa Evans, celebrated author of tell-all memoirs, tattoo an image of a northern brown argus on her wrist, take herself off to Whitebridge to look at newspaper clippings from 1924, and consult a local attorney about gun laws and safe houses? That’s the question Monika and her crew are left to answer.
Even a routine procedural isn’t quite so routine in Spencer’s deft hands.