The human penchant for deviant behavior reaches new levels in Carverís The Doll's House, a thriller that begins with the bizarre murder scene of a transvestite in Birmingham, England. New squad leader Detective Sergeant Phil Brennan is still adjusting to his recent move to Birmingham with his psychologist wife,
Marina Esposito, uncomfortable without a working relationship with a familiar team. DS Ian Sperring is mildly antagonistic, secretly coveting the promotion for himself, supported by the equally rude Detective Constable Nadish Kahn, who labors under the soiled reputation of a father who disgraced the job. When Kahn snickers at rude sexual innuendoes at the murder scene, Brennan puts both men on notice, but the investigation remains fraught with resentments at the newcomer.
Meanwhile Brennanís wife,
still recovering from the last case she worked with her husband before the move,
has chosen to return to academia for a change of pace. Starting over in a new
position in the Birmingham University Psychology Department, Marina has cultivated new friends, attending a school social function while Phil is confronted with a case that will lead him deeply into areas of criminal sexual perversion and exploitation. What begins as a social occasion for Marina turns into a nightmare that parallels Brennanís investigation, driving a wedge between a couple
who desperately need to heal their relationship after a recent near-tragedy.
As the plot segues between the increasing number of murders and Marinaís personal dilemma, Brennan is forced to keep his team on track as the investigation yields ever more shocking connections to the underground world of fetishes, bondage and depravity on a scale that is hard to reconcile, even for seasoned detectives. Thereís no small amount of psycho-sexual dysfunction at hand, nor characters willing to profit from human weakness, a cornucopia of ways to deviate from societal norms, a netherworld tainted with danger and risk. Carver never slackens the pace, from the revelations uncovered by Brennan and his team to the more conventional but just as dangerous situation
Marina is desperate to escape. Given the complication of bringing a criminal mastermind to ground, Brennanís team is forced to close ranks and work together, the beginning of a relationship built on trust rather than suspicion.
Written by a husband-and-wife team writing under the pseudonym of Tania Carver, this thriller is both shocking and cleverly plotted, delving into unusual areas of human behavior beyond the norm for the genre, areas of behavior where the rules are different, danger exacerbated by greed and hubris. Not the type of story one might want to read often, dark and edgy--and unexpected.