At the start of this exquisite crime novel from British author Joss (Fruitful Bodies ), renowned cellist Sara Selkirk—who has barely performed in public since a breakdown following her lover's death—gives a charity performance at Bath's historic Pump Room. The evening goes well, but when she returns to claim a forgotten belt the morning after, she discovers Matthew Sawyer, the contentious "Director of Museums and Civic Leisure Resources," lying dead in the ancient spring that waters the legendary Roman baths. Spurred by the details reluctantly divulged by her student, DCI Andrew Poole, Sara tries to puzzle out Sawyer's murder. She knows a number of the potential suspects, who include James, her charming accompanist; Olivia, the victim's assistant director; and a virile but somewhat mysterious young chef named Paul, who, like Andrew, is attracted by Sara's beauty. Many motives lead to little hard evidence until another body surfaces and Sara finds herself suddenly clear about not just the mystery but her own future. If rich, gorgeous Sara sometimes seems too perfect to be true, the book's supporting cast is nicely fleshed out with human idiosyncrasies and tangled cross-purposes. Even better are Joss's lyrical evocations of Bath, which becomes the book's most compelling character. Agent, Jean Naggar. (Apr.)
FYI: The author has won the CWA Silver Dagger Award.