cover image Thicker Than Water: A Monika Paniatowski Mystery

Thicker Than Water: A Monika Paniatowski Mystery

Sally Spencer. Severn, $28.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8561-6

Set in 1977, British author Spencer’s strong 10th mystery featuring Det. Chief Insp. Monika Paniatowski’s (after 2015’s Best Served Cold) finds the Whitebridge detective just back from maternity leave. Paniatowski answers a summons to the posh residence of Councillor William Danbury, where au pair Gretchen Müller has found Danbury’s wife, Jane, bludgeoned to death. As soon as aggressive, chauvinistic Danbury returns home, he confronts Paniatowski, who’s trying to control the crime scene. When she refuses to let him go upstairs to see his children, he assaults her. Things get even more chaotic when the police belatedly discover that the couple’s two-year-old daughter, Melanie, is missing. Evidence that Danbury abused his wife, had affairs, and would benefit financially from her death makes him a prime suspect—but one with an alibi and friends willing to use their influence to protect him. Some deft plot twists, set against the pervasive misogyny of the period, lift this procedural well above the norm. (Feb.)