A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward

This is the second novel by Sarah Ward to feature Detective Inspector Francis Sadler.  I’ve not yet read the first book, but I’ve added it to my reading list.

I’m amused: in order to post this review on Amazon, I had to remove a quote.

The quote I had to remove?  ‘A quartet of cock-ups.’   Sigh.

A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward

‘If you really want to know what happened in 2004, you need to unlock the past.’

In spring 2016, a body is discovered at a disused morgue in Derbyshire.  A man has been murdered.  Detective Inspector Francis Sadler is called to the scene, and recognises the body as being of his old schoolmate, Andrew Fisher.  But Andrew Fisher was supposedly murdered in 2004 by his wife Lena Gray.  Lena identified the body, admitted to killing him and has served 11 years in prison.

Whom did Lena murder in 2004?  Where has Andrew been for the past 12 years, and what on earth happened to the police investigation in 2004?

‘There’s something bigger going on here.  And we haven’t found it yet.

There are many layers to this story, and plenty of complications.  Almost all of the main characters have complicated (or complicating) personal lives.  Lena and her sister Kat Gray share their childhood home, but Lena goes missing after Andrew’s body is discovered.  While the police eventually work out who the first murdered man was, this raises even more questions.  Another woman, who looks like Lena, is found dead. While her death is apparently suicide, could it be murder?  In the meantime, Kat is receiving items, including the murder weapon, from a mysterious teenage boy.  Each item appears to be a clue, even though Kat doesn’t recognise them all.

As the police investigate, they uncover a number of rape cases around the time of the 2004 murder.  Those cases were handled badly by the police, but revisiting the details now will eventually help them solve the murder cases.

‘A quartet of cock-ups.’

I understand that this is the second D I Francis Sadler novel written by Ms Ward, and I’ll be adding the first to my reading list. There’s a good balance between the private lives of (some of) the police officers and the details of the case being investigated.  The novel moves quickly, with plenty of twists and turns that kept me turning the pages and wondering whether there was only one murderer, and who it was.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Faber & Faber for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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