cover image The Devil’s Chair

The Devil’s Chair

Priscilla Masters. Severn, $27.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8389-6

In Masters’s tepid fifth procedural featuring Martha Gunn (after 2012’s Smoke Alarm), the Shrewsbury coroner once again proves essential in helping Det. Insp. Alex Randall solve a baffling case. Following a drunken argument, Tracy Walsh leaves her partner, Neil Mansfield, and drives off with her four-year-old daughter, Daisy, only to crash near the Devil’s Chair, a rocky outcrop local legend associates with black magic. The police, alerted to the accident by an anonymous phone call, discover Tracy severely injured and comatose, and Daisy vanished. At first, the only traces that Alex and his colleagues can find of the child are a battered toy and a bloodstained rear seat. Eventually, they begin to turn up a series of clues, including a child’s shoe, an herb bouquet, and a Barbie dressing gown, seemingly planted at the scene of the accident by a malicious individual. The solution that Tracy and Alex eventually uncover together, unfortunately, proves too convoluted to be believable. (Aug.)