Dunne, May 2003, 23.95, 240 pp.
Thames Valley Detective Superintendent Mike Yeadings recognizes the elegantly dressed body found in Shotters Wood as gift shop owner Leila Knightley. However, efforts to notify next of kin turn farcical, as no family members seem to be around in area except perhaps her husband Aidan, who is probably sleeping with someone.
The family returns home with the victim's stepdaughter Chloe coming back from visiting her grandmother in France and Leila's brother and his significant other from Scotland. Aidan provides no alibi, but recognizes the dress his wife wore as belonging to Chloe, who denies knowledge of it as hers, but admits to some memory lapses. A newspaper article highlights the dress leading to Sir Arthur Waites thinking he bought the garb for his wife years ago. Mike visits Arthur only to find weird happenings that may impact the homicide investigation.
Though the ending seems weak, the latest Yeadings mystery is a fascinating who-done-it that will keep readers enthralled until the let down final resolution. The story line is a clever English police procedural with Mike and cohorts struggling to obtain cooperation from the victim's survivors, all whom are fully developed characters. Though the climax seems pale in comparison, Clare Curzon's Thames Valley tale is a solid entry.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner