Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Murder in Notting Hill (DCI Isaac Cook Thriller #6), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, January 2018

DCI Isaac Cook has a puzzle on his hands.

Two women have been murdered in his area. One of them is Christine Devon, a forty-something, hardworking black woman from Jamaica. She works as a house cleaner, and there's no obvious reason for her to have been professionally killed. And yet she has been.

The other woman, Amelia Brice, is wealthy, privileged, the daughter of a contentious and controversial radio talk host. She lived only a fairly short distance from Christine Devon, and yet in a wholly different world. She's had unfortunate tastes in men ever since her relationship with a rising young banker ended. Some of them could have been dangerous--but she was killed in the very same, highly professional manner as Christine Devon. Exactly the same way, with just enough time between the two deaths for the same killer to have committed both murders.

Christine Devon had been cleaning Amelia Brice's house for a few months. That's the only connection, and it still leaves them with no obvious motive for the murder of either woman.

DCI Cook and his team have to sort through the lives of both women, Amelia Brice's former lover and Amelia's former friend, now his wife, and political harassment from the Commissioner for the Metropolitan police, who wants to force out Cook's superior in favor of his own man, in hopes of preserving his own job. It has nothing to do with the investigation of two murders, except for making everything harder.

Further complicating things is the murder of Samuel Devon, the fifteen-year-old youngest of Christine Devon's three children. Unlike the two older offspring, college student Charisa and electrical shop worker Billy, Samuel got involved in a local gang. Connections with one of the less violent gang leaders is their only lead there--but it looks like Samuel may have become an inconvenience for a gang leader even the other gang leaders fear.

It's complicated, intricate, frustrating for DCI Cook and his team. Strang reflects the diversity of 21st century London, and while I can't speak to the accuracy of it, he does treat that ethnic diversity with respect. Character and respectability is in the choices they make, not the accents they have or where they or their parents came from. I don't know how it will feel to people who know contemporary London, but it felt real and believable to me.

A solid, enjoyable mystery. Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the author and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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