cover image The Murder House

The Murder House

Simon Beaufort. Severn, $28.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8327-8

In this darkly comic psychological thriller from Beaufort (the joint pen name of Susanna Gregory and Beau Riffenburgh), what should have been a minor procedural indiscretion—the illicit possession of a criminal case file—leaves police constable Helen Anderson vulnerable to ambitious and crooked defense barrister James Paxton, who was at school with her in Bristol years earlier. Smugly overconfident Paxton forces Helen to commit ever-greater crimes until he overplays his hand. Determined to remain a cop despite one serious faux pas, Helen demonstrates a laudable talent for improvisation and evasion as she comes to realize she can’t avoid her new career path. Each step into depravity and self-indulgence seems justifiable to Helen, each heinous act an easier choice than the one before. Beaufort (A Dead Man’s Secret and seven other Sir Geoffrey Mappestone mysteries) artfully presents a monster in a flattering light while never underplaying the gravity of her crimes. (Jan.)