‘I kid you not. What’s the time?’
‘Five. Give or take.’
‘That makes it 1am in Perth,’ said Munro. ‘Let’s give her a wee call.’
‘At this hour?’ said West. ‘She’ll be in bed, surely?’
‘Nae bother. She’ll have to get up to answer the phone anyway.’
The Amazon summary describes She by Pete Brassett as a “Scandinavian style suspense thriller.” I’m not sure I know exactly what that means. I was reminded more of Inspector Morse. The police procedural featuring the crusty, insensitive senior officer and the callow, long-suffering younger officer seems to be in vogue these days, and for good reason. It’s a formula that works. The Inspector Skelgill mysteries I’ve been reviewing are examples of the same sort ot thing. In fact, Inspector Munro, hero of this book and its sequels, bears a pretty close resemblance to Skelgill, except that he’s a few notches less abusive.
Inspector Munro is from Scotland, but works in London, where he fled after the death of his beloved wife. He’s paired with Sergeant Charlotte (Charlie) West, an attractive young woman with a drinking problem. What seems like a routine missing person case turns out to be part of a string of bizarre murders and dismemberments. In a parallel narrative we learn about their suspect, an innocent-looking young woman who conceals bizarre compulsions.
The picture of the killer is compelling, in a flashing-lights-and-ambulances-by-the-side-of-the-road sort of way, but the main interest of the story (for me) was watching Munro work with Sergeant West. A smart and talented officer, she walks the razor edge of career disaster with her alcohol-caused mistakes and late appearances. Munro takes a sergeant-major approach with her, cutting her no slack, and gradually she responds positively to the challenge.
The plot wraps up in an extremely neat way. In fact it’s so neat that author Brassett throws in an epilogue to throw everything we think we’ve learned into question.
I’m not sure I’ve forgiven him for that trick. But I have read two more books in the series, so I must not be too angry.
Cautions for language, gore, and adult themes.