Dunne, Aug 2004, 22.95, 224 pp.
Just back from a family vacation in warm Madeira, Detective Superintendent Mike Yeadings realizes the cold is inside his bones proving he has not adjusted to winter, which remains a month away. At least the naked corpse except for the fur coat was not found in the river, but instead in a pub yard in Henley on Thames. Mike and his team arrive on site to determine whether a crime was committed or a sad natural death occurred.
Detective Sergeant Rosemary “Z” Zycynski immediately identifies the dead person as her Ashbourne House neighbor, Sheila Winter. Z explains to Mike that elderly Beattie Weyman recently bought Ashbourne House and converted it into luxury apartments. She also says that the victim owned a garden centre and shared her flat with her mother. As far as Z knew Sheila had nothing else in her life. Concluding murder occurred Mike and his Thames Valley team investigates the neighbors to uncover what happened to Sheila.
The Thames Valley CID mysteries are excellent British police procedurals with this entry being the usual superb investigative tale. The brisk story line takes off once the freezing Mike arrives at the crime scene and never decelerates until the case is solved. Mike is a terrific protagonist, but Z plays the centrist role as the victim was her neighbor and she more or less knows the other residents of Ashbourne House. An intriguing sidebar is the motive behind why Beattie converted the house as this lonely senior with the victim brings a message that everyone needs companionship. Ms. Curzon's latest tour of the Thames is a winner.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner