By day Mary Andrea Clarke holds down a responsible position in the Civil Service - but by night she is a crime fiction writer
Jasmine Sharp is, to some extent, an accidental private investigator. With life circumstances halting her dreams of an acting career before it could start, she is offered a different opportunity by her uncle, who invites her to join his private investigation agency. Despite a shaky start and her own lack of confidence, Jasmine’s new career develops and her uncle’s agency eventually becomes hers.
While Jasmine’s small build and youthful appearance prove an advantage against those expecting a burly police officer or security consultant, she makes a name for herself in finding missing persons. Hence, Alice Petrie is not the first client to approach Jasmine when she asks for her help in locating the sister with whom she lost touch thirty years earlier.
Jasmine expects her task to be relatively straightforward, if sad, expecting Alice‘s sister Tessa to be dead after so long. However, the case proves more complex and dangerous than anticipated. In the course of her inquiries, Jasmine is warned off more than once. A thread is pulled which disturbs long buried issues and sets violent events in motion.
Chris Brookmyre tells the story from three points of view, that of Jasmine, Detective Superintendent Catherine McLeod and an unknown third party, although Jasmine has the lion’s share of the tale. It is a structure which works well, with the disparate nature of the three perspectives keeping the dynamic varied. The mystery of the third person’s identity is cleverly retained until the end of the book.
Action and suspense are strong throughout, interspersed with the balance of more everyday incidents, such as Jasmine’s drink with an old classmate and Catherine’s concern about a computer game her son wants. It is a combination which leads along a logical path, encountering twists en route which end in a surprising and satisfactory place. Recommended.