St. Martin's, June 2004, 23.95, 304 pp.
After the death of her lover and partner, Detective Sargent Kate Powers transfers from London to the Birmingham police force, but also takes a much needed vacation in Florence. On the flight back she sits next to bubbly Alan Grafton. He is exhilarated because his trip was a success buying leather goods and clothing to sell to distributors. Not long after landing, Kate investigates a suicide in a very public place.
Kate is shocked to see that the dead man is Alan who was so excited over the money he expected to make on the goods. She is granted permission to find out if this was a murder made to look like a self-termination. She discovers that Alan was bankrupt thanks to a powerful business leader who used fraudulent means to achieve a line of credit for shell companies. To bring this man to justice, she has to have hard evidence because if he walks, his wife and son will be his next victims.
This British police procedural is slow moving, which lets the readers to know the characters on an intimate basis. A secondary sub-plot involving sexism and racism in the police department and how it is handled makes STAYING POWER a cut above the average police procedural. The heroine is depressed after the loss of her lover and lonely because she hasn't made many friends in her new location but when it comes to fighting crime, she doesn't let her personal feelings get in the way. Fans of Patrice Hall and Ian Parker will want to read this tantalizing novel.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner