London detectives and spouses Duncan Kincaid and Emma James each are working on difficult murder cases. Kincaid is in charge of investigating a case in which an anti-development activist set off a lethal white phosphorus incendiary grenade, instead of the innocuous smoke bomb he meant to release. The protestor was incinerated, and several bystanders were injured, including Kincaid’s friend Tam and Kincaid’s wife’s partner, Melody Talbot, who was on the scene at the St. Pancras train station for a concert by her boyfriend Andy.
Kincaid has recently been transferred from Scotland Yard to Holborn station, so he has a new team to get to know in addition to figuring out what happened at St. Pancras. But he finds himself once again relying on Doug Cullen, his brilliant former detective sergeant from the Yard, who is recovering from a badly broken ankle, and has time to help. Melody also surreptitiously works on the case; she feels personally invested because of having witnessed it. At the same time, she assists Gemma in finding evidence to indict a very canny rapist/murderer.
One of my favorite things about the Duncan Kincaid detective series is the juxtaposition of warped evil people and the crimes they commit, with Duncan’s diverse, messy, warm, loving network of family and friends. So many detectives have personal lives that are dark in some way, featuring struggles with painful pasts, relationships gone bad, and/or addiction. Detective Superintendent Kincaid and his wife Detective Inspector Gemma James are not without worries, but they are more of the sort shared by everyone – the security of your job, the safety of your kids, or whether or not the kids should be allowed to keep stray kittens.
Evaluation: I think this series is excellent (this is the sixteenth installment). This newest book is best savored if you start back at least a few books, although it isn’t really necessary.
Published by William Morrow, and imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2014