Frankie Bailey introduced Albany detective Hannah McCabe in last year’s The Queen Dies, set in the near future. Bailey’s sequel,What The Fly Saw, proves to be another strong entry in what promises to be a series with just enough quirkiness to attract a huge readership. And well it should.
It’s 2020 in a very cold Albany that has almost been ground to a halt by a blizzard. That white snow blanketing everything covers more than McCabe might have thought when she’s handed her newest case: investigating the murder of a funeral home owner, found dead in home’s basement with an arrow protruding from his chest. Kevin Novak might have been depressed over the death only months before of his best friend, who succumbed to a sudden heart attack, but Novak surely didn’t shoot himself in the chest with his own compound bow.
Assisting McCabe is her partner, Mike Baxter, whom McCabe has yet to fully trust. On the surface, Novak was a family man with a loving wife and two decent kids, and also an active member of a local megachurch. The suspects are easy for the detectives to spot: the church’s minister; a psychiatrist who counsels church members; even a Southern medium who’s transplanted herself to New York.
What’s less easy to define is a motive for any of these people to want to kill Novak. Complicating things for McCabe are political machinations that involve her family, and the fallout two previous cases, one which seems to impinge on this murder–or does it?
The near-future aspect is compelling enough to be of interest but not a distraction from what is, at its heart, a good old-fashioned detective story. The kind of policing McCabe and Baxter carry out includes devices we can only imagine, but here, too, Bailey is astute and makes these implements an adjunct to policing in a totally believable manner. Bailey’s background includes teaching at the School of Criminal Justice in the U of Albany, where her interests explore the connections between crime, history and popular culture, and aspects of these are evident in the books and add a pleasing dimension, much as the futuristic aspects do.
The heart of the matter still revolves around very human relationships, from the victim and his family, to McCabe’s own, and form the strength of what is a compelling story and an addictive read.