Spencer, Sally - 'Death's Dark Shadow'
Three young boys are playing on a frozen winter pond in 1975 Yorkshire. One of them is daring the other to go to the middle and he is very reluctant but eventually agrees and the ice breaks and he falls into the fairly deep and icy cold water. He sinks to the bottom and the others are very frightened, but he surfaces and shouts that there is a body below the ice. The police are called and divers eventually recover the corpse of a woman who had been tied up and had weights attached to her body. It is clear to the coroner that the woman's head had been struck with something similar to a hammer and that death would have been instantaneous.
So starts a new investigation for Detective Chief Inspector Monika Paniatowski and her team of detectives. Monika has an adopted Spanish daughter Louisa and had recently travelled to Spain with her for her to meet her relations and for Monika to see her former boss ex-DI Charlie Woodend. Since his retirement he has set himself up in a private detective role with a fluent Spanish speaking partner, Paco Ruiz on the Costa Blanca. Back in England and involved in the fresh case Monika's daughter sees the sketch of the death woman and says that is "Elena", a woman that she met during a family dinner in their recent visit to Spain. Monika liaises with Charlie by phone and he is able to confirm that indeed Elena seems to have disappeared.
Spain at this time has been under control of Franco for many years and the police and military exercised ruthless control of the country, thus as a result Charlie Woodend has to carry out his investigations with a softly, softly approach but what he discovers greatly helps Monika in her final closure of the case.
I was really gripped by this story, as I was previously when I read BLACKSTONE AND THE ENDGAME which featured her other protagonist Inspector Blackstone. The author has a marvellously concise way of writing and she can put more into a few sentences than other authors do in several pages. I found the story immensely interesting and fast moving and the pages just shot by. I was really on tenterhooks until the final page. It was an intensely interesting, plot-driven story of real charm and I will certainly look out for more stories by this very gifted author. Well recommended.
Terry Halligan, England