Smoke Alarm: A Martha Gunn Mystery

Priscilla Masters. Severn, $28.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8199-1

An arsonist’s torching of a “lovely old house” in the quiet village of Melverley ignites Masters’s psychologically complex fourth mystery featuring Shrewsbury coroner Martha Gunn (after 2011’s Frozen Charlotte). Three members of the Barton family perish in the fire: mother Christie; her 15-year-old daughter, Adelaide; and her Alzheimer’s-afflicted father-in-law, William. Christie’s 14-year old son, Jude, escapes, but is injured trying to rescue the others. Husband and father Nigel Barton was out of town at the time. While Det. Insp. Alex Randall and his team are pursuing tenuous leads to people who might have had a grudge against the Bartons, a second fire in nearby Sundorne set exactly the same way destroys the home of Monica Deverill, whose body isn’t found in the wreckage. The widowed Gunn and the very private Randall, to whom she lends her shrewd advice, grow closer as they search for the long-buried link between the fatal fire and the missing woman in this satisfying procedural. (Dec.)