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After only* 6 months maternity leave, Jo Masters is rearing to go back to work. And she’s not settling for desk work, she wants to be on active duty.
When she responds to an emergency call, she finds her old friend and ex-policeman Harry Ferman unresponsive and covered in blood on the floor. The octogenarian is dying after being assaulted with a fire poker. They find evidence that there was a younger woman staying with Harry but it looks as if it was a hasty arrangement without much comfort or any romance.
Not much later they’re called in for a double homicide and discover that the missing girl is the couple’s daughter. There’s also a suspected link with a gang-related shooting. The investigation into all those different crimes that are somehow related is a difficult puzzle. Most of the police see the daughter as the perpetrator but Jo has reservations and thinks there’s another explanation.

The book starts out rather slow, with a child welfare worker looking in on little Theo who was bruised by a reckless driver that drove in the back of Jo’s parked car. The first day back at work is concentrated on a recent shooting incident connected to a local crime family.
The story is well written and keeps the suspense up. It’s rather violent and gritty compared to most British police procedurals, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The violence and killings are functional and not unnecessary vivid. Society is a lot more violent than 50 years ago and books reflect reality. The plot makes sense as well; it’s a grim picture of child welfare services though.
The chapters about the investigation are regularly interrupted by the thoughts and activity of someone called James. Who he is and what his involvement is becoming clearer as the story progresses.
Jo, the protagonist is easy to relate to. She’s a bit of a perfectionist and struggles to balance her highly demanding job as a police officer with her new status as a single mum. She’s rather insecure about her role as a new mother, constantly asking herself if she’s doing the right thing and giving enough attention and time to her baby.
I hardly noticed that this was the 3rd book in the series. So, if you haven’t read the previous 2 books, this is a good point to step in. It doesn’t mean that I won’t read them anyway

*6 months maternity leave is early to go back to work? I wish I lived there, as we get only 16 weeks in Belgium. And after that, she can get an additional 6 months as well. Be proud of your NHS, my English friends!

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