cover image The Couple at the Table

The Couple at the Table

Sophie Hannah. Morrow, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-325770-2

In bestseller Hannah’s subpar 11th Spilling CID procedural (after 2019’s The Next to Die), it’s been six months since Jane Brinkwood, only daughter of Lord Brinkwood, was fatally stabbed at her father’s Tevendon Estate Resort, a British couples-only venue. Curmudgeonly Det. Constable Simon Waterhouse, who was vacationing there at the time with his long-suffering, more socially adept wife, Sgt. Charlie Zailer, took over the murder investigation. He concluded that the culprit must be among those staying at the resort, but no more than that. Lucy Dean, a fellow guest and the ex-wife of Jane’s widowed husband, badgers Waterhouse into vigorously renewing his inquiries. Jane is revealed to have been a thoroughly unpleasant person, who managed to offend and/or threaten everyone within snarling distance. For Waterhouse, who rightly describes Tevendon as “full of psychos,” the question becomes not so much who killed Jane as who wouldn’t want to. Too many daft theories, tenuous motives, irritating suspects, red herrings, and lies weigh down the plot. What starts as an irresistible puzzle becomes a disjointed, repetitive muddle. Hannah has done better. Agent: Peter Straus, Rogers, Coleridge & White (U.K.). (Nov.)