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by Clare Curzon
Thomas Dunne Books, April 2003
260 pages
ISBN: 0312288212

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Superintendent Mike Yeadings of the Thames Valley police force and his wife Nan had been coming home from a rare night out, when Yeadings stops at a flashing blue light to discover that he body of a bizarrely dressed woman had been found nearby. Leila Knightley had been the part owner of a store that Yeadings, had patronized when looking for a birthday gift for his Downs' syndrome daughter, and he identified the body.

The story then goes back to detail Knightley's life up to that point and how she ended up a victim. Chapters of the police investigation, headed up personally by Yeadings and his Detective Inspector, Angus Mott, and the two sergeants, Beaumont, and Rosemary Zyczynski, alternate with chapters about the life of the civilians involved in the crime.

Leila's husband, Professor Aidan Knightley was a womanizer and is annoyed that Leila has gotten herself killed. This upsets his routine. Chloe, Aidan's daughter, is upset because she truly loved Leila. The neighbors' lives are also upset by the crime.

Curzon has made each character, and there are lots of them in this book, an individual. This isn't the Thames Valley of Inspector Morse, it's a bit less urban. We get involved in the lives of the characters. We want to comfort Chloe. We want to hit Professor Knightley upside the head and tell him to grow up. We commiserate with Inspector Mott and his personal problems, and we wonder whether Beaumont or Z will become the next inspector when Mott takes his mandatory change in position.

This is the best sort of British police procedural. Although it is the 16th in this long running series, there is enough character development in this book so it can be read as a stand-alone.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, April 2003

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