A successful police procedural requires an elaborate structure: a serious crime and a broad cast of characters, from those in proximity to the deed (some of them potential suspects) and the intricate machinations of an unfolding investigation, from the lead detective to the many layers of pertinent facts that offer the desired solution, an arrest.
In her second mystery, Hunter raises the bar even higher than in Close to Home, events, suspects and detectives challenged by a compelling case with multiple suspects. She imbues her characters with the usual array of virtues and flaws, people both important and incidental to the outcome. Ragged edges ultimately fit together in a puzzle with a possible connection to another case: the victims two women, one disappearance two years prior and the discovery of a young woman locked in a dingy cellar for three years with a young child.
The lead investigator returns from Hunter's prior novel, Detective Inspector Adam Fawley of the Thames Valley Police in Oxford, England in charge of a brilliant collection of detectives, both seasoned and personally challenged, the input of female detectives as valuable as their male counterparts. It is only after the shocking discovery of the woman in the cellar in the dilapidated home of an elderly, confused man that the other case is considered, a tantalizing suspicion that the two women's cases be related.
Unable to speak or identify herself, the young woman trapped in the cellar is the first priority; she is deeply traumatized, her son too young to offer any information. The squad faces a tangled web of conflicting motives and potential suspects, the rescue of the woman and child and the disappearance of a woman living only a short distance away. The investigation proceeds with the usual discipline. Detectives root through the detritus of people's private lives to find the truth, the disillusionment of suspects' behavior ameliorated by the activities of particular individuals at the Thames Valley Police Department, from DI Fawley to a loyal and resourceful Detective Constable Chris Gislingham, who returns home each day to the joy and exhaustion of a new baby, and the suddenly unavailable Detective Sergeant Gareth Quinn. Fawley monitors his team, male and female, directing them to explore the most critical details, never doubting their ability to solve a case with no shortage of untrustworthy suspects.
Hunter deftly captures it all in a dynamic mystery that begins with the discovery of a kidnapped woman and ends with the twists and turns of a shocking--plot. The truth is buried under layers of schemes and deceptions, from an author with a diabolical imagination and a talent for dissecting the vagaries of human behavior.