Gemma takes the lead in this one; her husband, Duncan Kincaid, is on family leave, caring for their adopted child, Charlotte, who continues to have trouble adjusting and can’t handle being left at preschool on her own. Gemma’s new position as detective chief inspector puts her in charge of an investigation into the murder of a barrister, whose body is found in a seedy hotel, tied up and strangled on the bed. During the investigation, Gemma’s assistant, DI Melody Talbott (whose father owns a popular tabloid newspaper and who’s a lot wealthier than you or me), falls for a guitar player, and Duncan helps investigate on the side by talking to friends in the business. But then, a second barrister is killed in similar circumstances, and the team must figure out the connection between the victims.
The setting, the Crystal Palace area of London, has historical roots that are described in brief introductory quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Since I’d never even heard of the Crystal Palace, this was an interesting side story that begins with the London Exhibition in 1851 and ends with its destruction by fire in 1936.
This time it’s Duncan’s turn to face a life change. At the end of the book, once Gemma and her team have wrapped up the murder investigation and saved a life or two, Duncan has also solved Charlotte’s daycare problem and heads eagerly back to work. And what he finds is not at all what he expected.