The latest case for Londoner DI
Geraldine Steel involves
a tawdry means of disposing of a body; dumped in a wheelie
bin outside a charity shop. In DEADLY ALIBI the shop in
Highgate High Street is quiet, until the staff make the
gruesome discovery. DI Steel has personal problems; her
mother died and she's had her first meeting with a twin
sister who is a mirror image of herself, and not in a good
way. Then she gets the call to attend the crime scene.
CCTV, a van on the street and DNA evidence all point at one
person, the deceased's husband Chris Cordwell. But he
reported her missing, and under questioning he admits an
unorthodox alibi - he was having an affair with a married
woman. No, he wasn't thinking of leaving his wife - and the
other woman has a jealous husband. Now the police team
needs to do further checking. Did the two prepare a story
and co-ordinate movements? Or did someone unknown enter
the picture? Geraldine, turning forty and single, muses on
the nature of marriage and love.
We meet Louise Marshall, the other half of the duo; she is
nervous of talking to the police, hoping her husband won't
find out what she's been up to on his weekly nights out.
Disturbingly her husband is already aware that she's been
entertaining a male visitor, and he is stealthily
determined to discover what is happening. By this point the
reader is wondering whether Louise will be killed first by
her husband or by a possible serial killer.
Readers of urban British police procedurals will find
familiar elements, and the DI being a woman updates
matters. Geraldine's sister Helena referring to the police
as pigs is a shock to her system. For an inspector, she
makes a serious error of judgement - more than one in my
opinion. The men in her work team don't treat her as one of
them. Unlike many procedurals I've read, Geraldine doesn't
always bring an officer around with her to take notes;
budget cuts, or different methods? The other characters are
quite ordinary people, hairdressers and so on, while the
scenery moves from office to mortuary to living rooms, not
very touristy. An odd note is that nobody suggests tracing
movements by mobile phone tracking. Leigh Russell has
written a carefully composed series of twists into DEADLY
ALIBI, so if a chiller is what you want, this might be a
good one to - not quite relax with this evening.
"A hand gripped her upper arm so suddenly it made her
yelp. Biting her lower lip, she spun round, lashing out in
terror. As she yanked her arm out of his grasp, her elbow
hit the side of his chest. Struggling to cling on to her, he
lost his footing. She staggered back and reached out,
leaning one hand on the cold wall of the tunnel. Before she
had recovered her balance he fell, arms flailing, eyes
glaring wildly as he disappeared over the edge of the
platform onto the rails below."
Geraldine Steel is plunged into a double murder
investigation which threatens not only her career, but her
life. When her previously unknown twin Helena turns up, her
problems threaten to make Geraldine's life turn toxic in
more ways than one.