What began as a routine exhumation of a suspected murder victim quickly turns complicated for private investigator Theodore Tate...
Theo Tate is barely coping with life since his world was turned upside down two years ago. As he stands in the cold and rainy cemetery, overseeing the exhumation, the lake opposite the graveyard begins to release its grip on the murky past.
When doubts are raised about the true identity of the body found in the coffin, the case takes an even more sinister turn. Tate knows he should walk away and let his former colleagues in the police deal with it, but against his better judgement he takes matters into his own hands.
With time running out and a violent killer on the loose, will Tate manage to stay one step ahead of the police? Or will the secrets he has buried so deeply be unearthed?
New Zealander Cleave's powerful third Christchurch noir (after The Killing Hour) introduces PI Theodore Tate. Two years earlier, the grown daughter of bank manager Henry Martins asked Tate, then a policeman, to investigate what she believed to have been her father's murder. Tate found nothing, but now the second husband of Martins's widow has died, possibly of poisoning. Martins's body is exhumed a measure that wasn't taken initially revealing some unpleasant surprises, and three bodies surface in a lake adjacent to the cemetery, one belonging to a missing 19-year-old girl. Tate, who's been borderline functional since a car accident killed his daughter and seriously injured his wife, gets drawn into an incredibly complicated case that puts him at odds with his former colleagues and renders him a murder suspect. The unrelenting grimness, reminiscent of James Ellroy, and the uncompromising portrayal of a man in torment, make for a fully absorbing, if disturbing, read.