Spencer kicks off a new franchise with the disappearance of a Thames Valley schoolgirl.
Jennie Redhead, whose looks suit her name, left Whitebridge for Oxford and never looked back. One of the lucky working-class kids given the opportunity to attend the prestigious university, she studied literature at St. Luke’s College, where she created a minor scandal with the school’s bursar, Charlie Swift. After a brief postgrad stint with the Thames Valley police force ends badly, Jennie launches herself as a private investigator. Nobody warned her that a private sleuth is expected to be part psychic and part shrink, nursemaiding hysterical moms like Mary Corbet, who insists that her teenage daughter, Linda, must be dead. Linda’s dad, Tom, is far more sensible; he’s sure that Linda’s done a runner, most probably to London. He tell Jennie that those posh new friends she’s been hanging around with, especially handsome Jeff Meade, were bound to get her into some kind of trouble. But the more Jennie looks at Jeff and his pals from the Shivering Turn Society, named in honor of a line penned by superobscure poet Robert Cudlip, the fishier they look. Spurred by thoughts of her mentor, DCI Monika Paniatowski, whose daughter Jennie babysat years ago, and with the help of her loyal friend Swift, the stubborn redhead bears down on the Shivering Turn crew and unleashes a shock wave through Britain’s upper crust.
Although not quite the equal of her seasoned mentor, Spencer’s Oxford grad gets full marks for persistence and ingenuity in her engaging debut.