Which only goes to show that even as an Assistant Commissioner, Joe's police role is rarely secure. Nor is his romantic life, which involves a much younger woman determined to bring him into committed bliss. (He's only half averse.) And she too, as it happens, is connected with Sir James Truelove.
This is a scrumptious traditional mystery, involving country knowledge, local wisdom, Joe's ability to suss out who's naughty and nice, and a pervasive strand of long-term evil and manipulation in an otherwise charming locale.
"Someone in the village knows, evidently," said Adelaide. "The knowledge was passed to -- sold to -- Lady Truelove, with awful consequences. Lure swapped for bate? Now that's malice aforethought."Some of the best of English folklore and tradition is threaded through this lively mystery, with even an appearance of the powerful and dangerous Green Man of old. Satisfying sorting of a pleasantly complex plot and a set of side characters that come with layers of their own make this one of Cleverly's best. Highly recommended for enjoyable mystery reading -- and, considering the season, it's also a winner on a gift list. Great timing, from Soho Crime.
"I'd call it murder," Hunneyton said.
"But murder that's almost impossible to prove," Joe warned. "I hardly like to think why we're even bothering to attempt an inquiry."
He was shot down by two focussed glares.