cover image The Doll’s House

The Doll’s House

Tania Carver. Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.), $25.95 (480p) ISBN 978-1-60598-654-8

British author Carver’s formulaic fifth Det. Insp. Phil Brennan novel (after The Black Road) finds Phil and his wife, Marina Esposito, a criminal psychologist, starting anew in Birmingham after enduring a horrific trauma eight months earlier. Phil, now leading a police team whose members don’t know him, looks into an unusual murder. Inside an ordinary house, sitting at a table laid for dinner, is the body of a heavily made-up woman dressed in clothes that make her look like a doll. The investigation follows predictable lines, interspersed with tension between Phil and the man who hoped to have gotten his position, Det. Sgt. Ian Sperring. Meanwhile, Marina must contend with the unwanted attentions of Hugo Gwilym, a best-selling author of pop psychology books. Gwilym’s efforts to seduce Marina complicate Phil’s inquiry once his name surfaces in connection with the case. A key character is predictably put into peril toward the end, while the killer’s identity comes as an anticlimax. (Dec.)