A police constable looks at murder from more angles than she’s ever wanted to.
Helen Anderson drifted into the police after graduating from university with no better idea of what to do with her life. Her first assignment in a pleasant rural area is easy and enjoyable, but things change when she’s moved to Bristol West, where she must deal with both persistent violent offenders and bigoted, sexist Sgt. Barry Wright. Helen’s social life seems to improve when she meets a few old school friends after ticketing one of them. Lawyer James Paxton was a highflier at school who charmed her into a dismal one-night stand and then disappeared from her circle. Paxton has made enemies of the police by defending violent criminals and getting them off by all means necessary. When Helen wrongly takes a case file with her on a weekend away, Paxton steals it, copies it and blackmails her into meeting him in a deserted house to force her to help get his client off. Helen kills him in a moment of rage. Appalled at first, she soon rationalizes her actions and uses her police skills to hide her guilt. Once the body is finally found, it is not where she left it. DI Neel Oakley and his team at first think it is the body of an Albanian professor who was renting the house short-term. Feeling sorry for Helen, Oakley tries to keep her from the wrath of Sgt. Wright by using her on his team when he can. Even when the police identify the corpse as Paxton, Helen does all she can to spread red herrings. The pressure causes her to do things she never imagined she was capable of.
Taking a break from his historical mysteries (A Dead Man’s Secret, 2011, etc.), Beaufort produces a keen psychological thriller along the lines of Ruth Rendell. Although readers know the killer from the start, Beaufort deftly explores just how far someone will go to protect herself.