Sarah Ward’s third DC Childs Mystery, A Patient Fury,returns with a strong entry in the series. Just returned from six months’ sick leave after the events of A Deadly Thaw, DI Sadler wakes her with the news of a crime scene to attend with them.

There’s been a house fire at Cross Farm Lane, outside Bampton, and a family of three died inside: older father, younger mother and young son, the result of likely arson. But one thing sets this far apart. Dangling from the stairwell window is a hanging body.

A double murder-suicide is the likely assumption. But as Connie and Sadler investigate, aided by the rest of their team, they will have differing opinions on who set the fire and who was the murderer.

Peter Winson had married the much-younger Italian Francesca after meeting at work. His grown children from his marriage, Julia and George, quickly come under scrutiny. Was their jealousy involved that could have led to murder of all three?

As Connie and Sadler soon find out, the older siblings couldn’t be farther apart in personality. And that’s not all that makes this an unusual case: Elizabeth Winson, Peter’s frist wife, disappeared in 1980 and was never seen again. In fact, even without a body, she’s been declared dead.

This adds a dimension to the case that finds the team searching for the fourth body that was never found.

Ward does a good job of mixing the differing styles of detecting with the personal issues of the team, but she and Sadler are the focus. The setting rings true, but the ending will leave readers surprised with that one final twist they probably didn’t see coming. A solid procedural and a fine entry in the series.

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