Sharon Bolton’s Lacey Flint series and stand-alones have in common their ability to hold the reader’s attention while comprising riveting crime novels of suspense.
Daisy in Chains is Bolton at her finest, bringing an original plot to the mix in this twisty tale where each and every detail may have more than one meaning. It’s a masterful blend of sleight of hand and at the end, the reader will understand just how good a plotter and writer Bolton is–and clamor for her next outing.
We are introduced to Maggie Rose, the blue-haired writer and attorney whose specialty is reversing convictions for murderers. The books that come out of this have given her a nice house in the country, even while she shuns publicity and appears to be a loner.
Then she’s asked to investigate the case of good-looking doctor, Hamish Wolfe, in jail for three or four murders, depending on who’s counting. What the victims all have in common is their body style, larger women whose heaviness has often caused them issues.
While an undergrad in Oxford, Hamish had a relationship with a heavy woman. There is the suggestion he filmed himself and his lover having sex, but the video has vanished, as did his girlfriend.
The police seemed to think this was reason enough for his suspicion when the newer murders occur and each woman was heavyset, with their bodies found in caves Wolfe is familiar with. They are his “type.” Forensic evidence places one of the dead woman in his car. Game over.
Maggie agrees to see Wolfe but is cautioned by the detective who put him away, Pete Weston, that Wolfe is a dangerous, charismatic character. Stacks of letters from woman who have fallen for his charms from afar arrive at his prison at the Isle of Wight daily. A group of misfits headed by his mother have formed a group to try to get his conviction overturned.
Maggie isn’t certain at all that she wants this particular case, but finds herself drawn in. And then someone breaks into her house and leaves a strange message: He love me.
Weston seems attracted to Maggie, a nice subplot as he’s going through a divorce and the man his own wife has left him for just happens to be his boss.
There’s a lot here and close readers will still be surprised at the twisted ending. Bolton successfully explores issues of body image as the tension heats up quickly and stays there. Life in prison, body image issues and bullies, murder and mystery: it’s all here in letters and emails exchanged between various participants; and in the wonderful scenes between the well-drawn characters. Highly recommended.