From Publishers Weekly
Fans of The Dead Hand of History
(2009) will welcome Spencer's second mystery featuring Det. Chief Insp. Monika Paniatowski set in 1970s Lancashire. Early one morning in the woods outside Whitebridge, a dog breeder discovers the naked, mutilated body of a man in his mid-30s. Particularly shocking is that the dead man is on his hands and knees, rigor mortis keeping him in position. Monika and her team get to work on the case and soon learn the victim is Andrew Adair—a recently discharged army officer who was one of the paras involved in the notorious 1972 Bloody Sunday killings in Northern Ireland. Before the team makes much headway, a similar murder occurs, and Monika realizes she must figure out what message the killer is trying to send with the posed corpses—and fast—before the violence escalates. A witty protagonist and a likable supporting cast redeem what is otherwise a formulaic police procedural. (June)
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After Spencer retired her delightfully irascible DCI Charlie Woodend, most fans sensed it was the end of an era. But in Monika Paniatowski, Woodend’s replacement as DCI, Spencer has created a new protagonist who might even best Woodend. Paniatowski has overcome a horrific childhood to reach her elevated position and is focused on filling Woodend’s very big shoes. Unfortunately, it’s 1970s Britain, and most of Monika’s male colleagues believe a woman’s place is at home. But her colleagues’ resentment is the least of her worries when a man’s mutilated body is found near Whitebridge, posed on hands and knees and stark naked. Clearly, the killer was trying to deliver a message, but Paniatowski and her team can’t begin to guess what it might be. Then two more bodies are found, also naked and posed, and the stakes are raised still further. As usual, Spencer produces a hugely entertaining police procedural, but it’s her keen perception of human nature and her ability to draw flawed but sympathetic characters that make this extension of the Woodend series such a standout. --Emily Melton