When Connor Swann, the dissolute son-in-law of renowned and influential Sir Gerald and Dame Caroline Asherton, is found floating in a Thames River lock, the circumstances eerily recall a strangely similar tragedy. Twenty years ago, the Ashertons' young son, Matthew, a musical prodigy, drowned in a swollen stream while in the company of his sister Julia -- Connor Swann's wife.
Police Superintendant Duncan Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James quickly discover that Connor's death was no accident, and that nothing in the Asherton family is as it seems. Connor, though estranged from Julia for more than a year, still lives in her London apartment, where his exploits with women and gambling suggest plenty of motives. The Ashertons are far more attached to Connor than to their own daughter, and these are only the first of the secrets that haunt the suspects. New lies cover older lies, as Kincaid finds himself dangerously drawn to Julia Swann, and Gemma must confront her own troubling feelings for Kincaid.
Crombie's Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his sergeant Gemma Jones make a welcome return, after All Shall Be Well, to investigate a suspicious drowning in the countryside outside London. The seemingly placid domestic life of distinguished conductor Sir Gerald Asherton and his wife, Dame Caroline Stowe, a renowned soprano, is disturbed when their son-in-law's body slips through the local lock and is dragged up to reveal suspicious bruises around the neck. The Ashertons' daughter Julia had recently left Connor, who was ``on good terms with pints and ponies.'' While her parents continued to lunch weekly with the victim in their stately home, Julia, who 20 years earlier had witnessed her little brother's death by drowning, has had nothing to do with him. The youthful, slightly rumpled Kincaid, his pleasant manner masking a keen intelligence, and the equally insightful, appealing Jones make little pretense that police work is objective, detached business. Occasionally Crombie lets their personal feelings-Kincaid's for the widow, Jones's for opera, and both for each other-outweigh the story. Nonetheless, the passages of the first drowning are haunting, the mystery is intriguing, the characters are well developed and the solution satisfies. Stay tuned. Author tour.