cover image Lady Jail

Lady Jail

John Farrow. Severn, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-9073-3

Farrow’s enjoyable ninth Émile Cinq-Mars novel (after 2020’s Roar Back) takes the Montreal detective-sergeant to Quebec’s Joliette Institution for Women (aka Lady Jail), where the inmates live in communal groups, to investigate the garroting murder of Florence, the troublemaker in a group of eight women. Newly arrived prisoner Abigail Lauzon, convicted in an investigation led by Cinq-Mars of embezzling a large sum of money in a fraud case, is the leading suspect. The government wants the unrecovered money in the fraud case back, and pressures Cinq-Mars to threaten Abigail with a life sentence for Florence’s murder unless she reveals where she hid the money. As Cinq-Mars questions the seven surviving women, he finds not all is as it appears, especially regarding each inmate’s crimes and the reason each was chosen for Lady Jail placement. His verbal sparring with Abigail is one of the book’s highlights. Bureaucratic intrigues and complications in Cinq-Mars’s love life enrich the plot. Fans of intelligent police procedurals will be rewarded. (Feb.)