Nick Louth’s Craig Gillard series, about a police detective in a small English city, has been a delight from the start. This third book, The Body in the Mist, is not only the best of the series (in my opinion) but one of the best English/Cozy/Police Procedurals I’ve ever read.
Craig Gillard has rarely talked to his (implausibly longsuffering) wife Samantha about his family and upbringing. But a call from his aunts in Devon, forcing them to travel there to visit them, will bring everything to light. And it’s a horror show.
Gillard has two aunts and an uncle living near his maternal family’s old sheep farm. One aunt, Barbara, is a hulking old troll, not terribly bright, who runs the farm mostly by herself. His aunt Trish is a tiny little chatterbox with a gift for emotional manipulation. And his uncle – once a celebrity liberal clergyman – is now suffering dementia in a nursing home, and has lost all his sexual inhibitions.
Gillard does not want to go. But apparently someone stole Barbara’s SUV and ran a man over one night, killing him and destroying his face so badly that he can’t be identified. The police suspect Barbara. Craig is a policeman! He has to come and help!
As Gillard does his best to look into the problem without stepping on the local police’s toes, Samantha gradually learns some of the family’s secrets. After what she learns she’ll be amazed that her husband managed to lead a semi-normal life. Dysfunctional doesn’t begin to describe it.
Also it’s possible his uncle murdered someone, years back.
The Body in the Mist was fascinating, horrifying, and sometimes darkly funny. I also noted some quite effective prose, particularly in a night scene on the farm when a storm is brewing and some mysterious beast is hunting Barbara’s sheep.
I strongly recommend The Body in the Mist. You’ll probably want to read the series in order (it starts with The Body in the Marsh). The three books (to date) aren’t expensive, and they give great entertainment for your book-buying dollar. No unusual cautions for content, expect for some creepy stuff about child molestation that happens offstage.