From Publishers Weekly
Spencer elevates Monika Paniatowski, the protégé of Det. Chief Insp. Charlie Woodend (A Dying Fall
, etc.), to center stage in this pedestrian police procedural set in 1973 Lancashire. On her first day as Woodend's successor, Paniatowski faces a misogynistic sergeant with an axe to grind and visits the site of a grisly discovery—a bag containing a severed human hand. After another hand turns up and proves to be that of baker Tom Whittington, the police figure out the first hand belongs to Linda Szymborska, Whittington's managing director at the bakery, with whom he was having an affair. Szymborska's husband is the obvious suspect, but Paniatowski hesitates to arrest him, opening herself to charges of bias due to their shared Polish background. Readers should be prepared for stock characters—the single mother trying to succeed in a man's world, her subordinate determined to undermine her—and a routine plot. (Nov.)
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Two grisly murders at a bakery provide a trial by fire for Charlie Woodend's protégée. As he readies himself for retirement in sunny Spain, "Cloggin' it Charlie" has left some mighty big brogues to fill at the Mid-Lancs nick. So when two dismembered hands lead to the discovery of two employees who went missing as the first loaves of Brunskill's Prize-Winning Bread were loaded on trucks bound for market one morning, Monika Paniatowski (Fatal Quest, 2008, etc.) knows she'll be tested. But the newly minted DCI isn't quite prepared for the treachery of her misogynist bagman, DS Walker, who undercuts her at every turn. Nor the calculated indifference of her boss, Chief Constable George Baxter, who had a brief affair with Monika years before coming to Lancashire and now fears being charged with favoritism. Nor the hectoring of Mike Traynor of the Evening Chronicle, who accuses her publicly of shielding suspect Stan Szymborska because she shares his Polish heritage. Only DI Colin Beresford seems willing to help Monika find out whether it really was Szymborska who killed his wife Linda, who ran Brunskill's along with her sister Jenny. Baker Tom Whittington, the other murdered employee, was Linda's lover, so Stan certainly has motive. And there are no other prospects in sight at harmonious Brunskill's. But before charging Stan, Monika wants what Charlie would have demanded: evidence. Monika carries the torch nobly as Spencer's franchise keeps its edge --Kirkus Reviews, 15th October 2009