This is the first book I read in this series, all the way back in high school, lo, these many years ago.
I re-read now, as part of the series, because it’s been so long and I wanted to see it in its proper place in the series. It was compelling then, compelling enough to make me add the series to my reading list all these years later and it’s still my favorite thus far.
I think, you know, it’s because there’s no Inspector Lynley. He’s off on his honeymoon and we get only Sergeant Travers. I try to like Lynley, and he’s mostly a reasonable character, but it’s hard to feel sympathetic to a character that is both rich and part of an unreachable elite.
In this case, she’s on leave from the police force to recover from injuries she got at the end of the previous book. Her young neighbor comes to tell her that they’re taking an unexpected trip to the seaside, and her father adds that he was called to help his family with a crisis. She turns on the news and sees that there has been a murder with racial overtones committed in that town, and realizes that he’s going to involve himself in that mess. She decides to go down there herself and try to help him out.
Once there, she discovers the officer in charge of the case is someone she did police training with, and she gets herself put on the case as a liaison between the police and the family, as represented by her neighbor.
The victim is a recent arrival in the country from Pakistan, set to marry the daughter of a local businessman and town councilor. He’s found in a concrete structure on the beach, covered in bruises and with a broken neck.
The daughter could be a suspect if she wanted out of an arranged marriage, but actually, she was pregnant when he got there and when she told him, instead of repudiating her and breaking off the marriage, he agreed to move the wedding up. She’s in much more trouble now that he’s dead.
Her boyfriend could be a suspect, but he didn’t even know she was pregnant and shows no interest in marrying her himself, so that’s not likely.
As the case develops, it turns out that the dead man was homosexual, which adds additional options. Did he have a lover that resented his upcoming marriage? Did his lover have someone that resented their relationship? Did the family find out and flip out about it?
The ending was less than tidy, which is fairly common with these books. Havers is in trouble for the way she handled the end of the case, and the case against the killer has definite holes in it that makes conviction less than definite.
I’m looking forward to the next book in the series and seeing what happens to Sergeant Havers.