Murder Crossed Her Mind (A Pentecost and Parker Mystery)

Written by Stephen Spotswood
Review by Fiona Alison

Spotswood’s newest sojourn with Parker & Pentecost won me over from the first page. A protagonist with a Holmesian air, Lillian Pentecost is New York’s most brilliant investigator; enigmatic, analytical, logical, unruffled. Spotswood expertly partners her with Willowjean “Will” Parker, a wryly amusing, streetwise sidekick who is tough, resilient and thoughtful. In this episode, Forest Whitsun, a well-known defense lawyer, hires the duo to find a missing woman. Perseverance (Vera) Bodine is a retired law secretary, a recluse and shut-in, and an obsessive hoarder possessed of a prodigious memory lots of folk would like to get their hands on. She’s bequeathed the building she owns to Whitsun, which makes him suspect number one in her disappearance, but what did Vera know that put her in danger? And why was she obsessed by the innocence of a recent murder suspect?

Neighbours’ statements prove ambiguous and unhelpful. Vera’s old law firm partners are hiding something, and one of them has a vendetta against Whitsun. Meanwhile, Will has her own problems when she’s mugged and her gun, ID, and car keys are stolen. This brings her into contact with a violent mobster who enjoys playing with knives. And Pentecost is once again targeted by the evil Quincannon, a millionaire, blood-lusting collector of murder paraphernalia,

The ending pays tribute to Poirot’s suspect gatherings, and Spotswood leaves his novel on such a huge cliffhanger that he actually apologises for it. Backstory about previous cases is deftly woven through a narrative which becomes much more than Vera’s disappearance. It’s fast-paced with first-rate, humanly-flawed protagonists, lots of action right up to the last page, and interconnected side stories: a compelling read, which spirits readers into 1947 New York with ease. I’m eager for the next book and strongly recommend this one.