The Girl with Red Suspenders by Barbara Whitehead (book cover)

The Girl with Red Suspenders (Constable 1990)

Coming off duty two hours late and contemplating a deliciously idle Sunday stretching ahead of him, Detective Inspector Dave Smart of York CID discovers the body of a young woman, a huddle of black tossed down on the stones, like a rag doll thrown away by a child, her red suspenders brighter than arterial blood.

Was it an accident? A hit-and-run case? Booze, drugs or brutal murder? There is no sign of violence, no blood, and the clothes of the dead girl are expensive. She is also stunningly beautiful. For the first time since the death of his wife Aileen, another woman has the power to stir Dave Smart - and this girl, too, is dead. After five arid years he has found an object in life, something to search for, his own personal Grail.

With the help of an attractive young WPC, 'Jenny' Wren, Dave combs the heart and environs of the ancient northern city. Emotionally - and perhaps unprofessionally - involved in the search for the girl's killer, he coaxes information from her family, friends and colleagues and trawls the sinister and deadly undercurrents in the community which merge in a watery scene of violence at Redby Lock.

Barbara Whitehead's second novel in her York Cycle of Mysteries (the first is Playing God, 1998) combines a keen sense of place and a deep understanding of human strengths and weaknesses with an assured narrative gift which keeps the reader continuously absorbed.

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