The Murder Book: A Henry Johnstone Mystery

Jane A. Adams. Severn, $28.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8655-2

Set in England in 1928, this accomplished series launch from Adams (A Murderous Mind and 10 other Naomi Blake mysteries) introduces Chief Insp. Henry Johnstone of Scotland Yard. George Fields, poor but proud, often spends weeks away from his wife and their seven-year-old daughter, who live in rural Lincolnshire, in order to make a meager living on fishing boats. After one such absence, he returns home to find that workmen have unearthed the bodies of his wife and child from a hole in the yard of the cottage the family was renting. Johnstone and his sergeant, Mickey Hitchens, investigate, but clues are few and far between. When a local landowner’s son is killed in an apparent riding accident, his death appears to be unrelated, but the Scotland Yarders eventually discover links with the earlier death. The great strength of this well-crafted whodunit lies in the author’s depiction of how her characters struggle to live as best they can in an economically depressed and changing world. Adams delivers more than one surprise en route to the satisfying ending. (Jan.)