Burial of Ghosts is Ann Cleeves’ stand-alone from 2003, an earlier book Auntie M wanted to read by the Vera Stanhope and Shetland series author.

Lizzie Bartholomew has been in and out of foster homes after being abandoned as an infant. After becoming a social worker, an incident in the care home where she works has left her traumatized and on leave.

A holiday in Morocco, a different landscape, almost alien, offers the respite she needs to put the awful incident and her reaction to it behind her. When she meets Philip on a bus, their one-night affair seems just that: a fling that will fade into a pleasant memory.

She’s barely settled in back Newbiggin, a small depressed town an hour from Newcastle, when a solicitor’s letter will change her life. Philip Samson has died and left her money in his will with a caveat of conditions that soon have Lizzie embroiled in the Samson family and Philip’s life, trying to ferret out his secrets.

With her own nightmares and sticky nature often her own worst enemy, Lizzie will need to pull on her knowledge of human characteristics as she sleuths out what’s really happened when not one but two young men are killed.

Cleeves relation to her setting are on show here, as are her skills at characterization and story. It’s a grand read, one to seek out, for fans of Vera or Shetland, or any reader looking for a darn good mystery.