Tani Bankole, a teenage boy of NIgerian descent, believes that his father, Abeola, has arranged a marriage for Simi, his eight-year-old sister. He begins making preparations to flee with her, because his mother, Monifa, seems totally subservient. Soon, though, he is horrified to realize that Simi is being prepared for female circumcision to “cleanse” her in preparation for marriage.
DS Teo Bontempi is found unconscious on the floor of her apartment after being bashed on the head and dies later in the hospital. When DCI Lynley and his team begin investigating, they find that her boss, DCI Mark Phinney, had her transferred shortly before, out of a project she loved, trying to shut down female genital mutilation in London. Phinney reports that she tended to do too much on her own instead of working with the team. But it soon comes out that he was having an affair with her. Phinney’s wife Pete is wholly subsumed with caring for their severely disabled daughter and is so afraid of having another child that she refuses sex, encouraging Phinney to look elsewhere. Only Phinney had fallen in love with Teo.
Teo also had a husband, although they were separated, who wanted to get back with her. He, Ross Carver, discovered her injured but acceded to her request to help her to bed instead of calling an ambulance. Teo’s sister Rose has her eye on Ross and has become pregnant by him during the separation.
These are the immediate suspects in the murder, but suspense is added when Tani flees with his sister from their abusive father.
Although as usual Linley is having romantic problems, this series continues to be really good. George takes her time getting to the crime, but the preceding background is necessary and interesting. Although the series went astray for several books after Linley’s wife Helen’s death, it has improved again with the last few books and is getting even better. We find out more about DS Winston Nkata’s home life in this one, too.