Minotaur, May 7 2013. $24.99
Northumbrian Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope enters the sauna at the Willows Health Club in Newcastle only to be greeted by the corpse of social worker Jenny Lister. Someone strangled the victim. Stanhope and her team interrogate employees at the club and talk with residents of Lister’s village Barnard Bridge.
The prime suspect is temporary cleaner Danny Shaw though several other employees and villagers surface with motives for killing Lister. Heeding local gossip, Vera finds a connection between Jenny’s work with foster kids and adoptions, and the villagers; which obfuscates the case by increasing the list of potentials who is the killer.
Relocating from the Shetland Islands to Northumbria, Ann Cleeves provides readers with an enjoyable British police procedural (see The Crow Trap). The investigation is a fun mess that makes no sense yet is entertaining due to the crusty, at times irritating alcoholic heroine. Vera keeps the whodunit focused as she and her team works the homicide inquiry using unique listening devices, ears.