Why is the senior detective of the murder squad being assigned to the case of a missing soap opera actress, especially when she has a history of occasionally ‘disappearing?’ DCI Isaac Cook and his partner, DI Farhan Ahmed, are intrigued. Someone high up in the government has an interest in the case, but they have no need to know—or, so they’re told, but the assumption is that she’s been murdered. “Murder is a tricky business,” Cook tells his partner, “When you have no body, no suspects, and no motive.” When more bodies start turning up, though, it gets even trickier.
Murder is a Tricky Business by Phillip Strang follows Cook and Ahmed as they doggedly pursue clues, to one dead end after another. All the while, powerful people are pulling strings to keep them in the dark, and becoming dangerous when they start getting close to the truth. The missing actress has a secret, a secret that threatens someone powerful, and people are dying to keep that secret hidden.
The action moves rapidly in some chapters, but when the author digresses to give back story on a character, primarily Cook and Ahmed, it slows down almost to the point of distraction. While some of these distractions offer tantalizing clues to the mystery, others simply tell us about the things the character fears, having little of nothing to do with the murders they must solve. The book would have been just as interesting without them, or if they’d been shortened considerably.
I must confess that I skipped a lot of these flashbacks, skimming until the author came back to the present and the case at hand. I enjoyed the story, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if there’d been fewer Cook/Ahmed flashbacks.
I received an advance reader copy of this book.
It is a five-star concept, but I can only give it three and a half for execution.