Whatever you do, don’t go clumping up the Hill.
At first, nobody thought much about Angela Randall’s disappearance, though it was odd that this prim, conscientious, middle-aged job-holder would simply leave without a word. But Sgt. Freya Graffham, new to the Lafferton CID, has a bad feeling and decides to investigate the case with some help from DC Nathan Coates. They make few inroads until a pudgy young girl goes missing, too. The vanished don’t seem to have much in common except for outings on the Hill and hints of depression that had driven them to alternate-therapy practitioners. Another woman, trying to deal with a life-threatening cancer, has also turned to the fringe element to deal with her problem. Freya and Nathan, now under auspices of the enigmatic but dishy Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler, must separate do-gooders from charlatans ranging from an acupuncturist to a spiritualist to a psychic surgeon (don’t ask). The suspense builds, climaxing with another death, then plummeting with the dénouement, which is nowhere near as gripping as the road leading to it.
Freya’s love obsession is a bit over the top, Simon is in need of serious fleshing-out, and surely it’s old-hat to deride New Agers, incense, herbs and vegans. All in all, an inauspicious series beginning from an author (The Risk of Darkness, 2006, etc.) once short-listed for the Booker Prize.