This is the third book in the author’s series featuring Harbinder Kaur, formerly a Detective Sergeant in the West Sussex, England Murder Squad, but now promoted to Detective Inspector in the Criminal Investigation Department of the Metropolitan Police in West Kensington, London. Harbinder, 38, finally moved out from living with her parents to take this job. Harbinder is peppery, witty, and very clever, albeit always feeling a bit out of place as a gay Sikh woman. She has not told her two flatmates in London she is gay. She gets along well however with Jeanne, a teacher from Scotland, and Mette, a tall Danish-born architect. But she is afraid to reveal who she really is.
As the book begins, Harbinder and her team are called to investigate the murder of an MP, Garfield (“Gary”) Rice, while he was attending the 21st reunion of the class of 1998 from London’s posh Manor Park school. Harbinder is surprised to find one of her officers, Detective Sergeant Cassie Fitzherbert, was from the same class at the same school and also attended the reunion. Since Cassie was a witness, she could not be involved with the case.
Harbinder soon focuses on a group of friends which included Gary Rice. All the members of his clique were at the reunion: Isabelle (“Izzy”) Istar, now a well-known actress; Henry Steep, also an MP; Chris Foster, now a famous band member; Anna Vance, a language teacher in Italy; and Cassie herself.
The group is tied together not only by friendship, but by the death of fellow classmate David Moore at the end of their senior year. Since that time, at least some members of the group occasionally attended lunches with Rice at a dining club in “Bleeding Heart Yard” in Holborn. Moreover, shortly before his death Gary had received anonymous notes that read “bleeding heart,” a few of which also included a drawing of a heart with an arrow through it.
There are plenty of tantalizing leads and red herrings, especially after another member of the group is found dead.
Harbinder is only one of the narrators in the book; we get to see what happens with group members from multiple viewpoints.
Evaluation: Fans of Tana French will be reminded frequently of the Dublin Murder Squad book, The Secret Place. It wasn’t the similarities in the story line so much, although both were set in elite schools, but the style of writing. It would have been hard for me to remember it was by Elly Griffiths, were it not for the occasional injection of very funny observations by Harbinder. At any rate, I consider any likeness to Tana French to be a very positive aspect of a book, and the combination with Griffiths’s slightly different strong writing points made for an excellent novel.
One can’t help loving Griffiths’ recurring characters, and I can’t wait to read more about them.
Published in the U.S. by Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2022
The comparison to Tana French makes me think I need to give this series a try.