In this Tru North mystery, a body is found suspended in a burned out building. On the face of it it seems to be the aftermath of bizarre sexual goings-on. The state of the body doesn't make identification easy and there isn't much evidence regarding the circumstances of death, murder, suicide or accident? The building is owned by the pushy and well-connected Ronald Rinhart - who attempts to throw his weight and his contacts about, but Tru is not that easily intimidated.
To add to her work related problems, Tru is having issues with her partner Markie who is out of town with her relatives; Tru is affraid of commitment and unwilling to come out to the extent that Markie would like. With her relationship already slightly rocky, she finds herself pushed into close professional contact with arson investigator C B Belpre - who clearly has other things in mind.
The books is told from alternating viewpoints, Tru's and CB's - this not only allows you to see the case as both characters see it, and how they see each other, but also it gives McClellan a chance to reveal facts about the case as each pursues their investigation. Without this device she would have to have them either joined at the hip or have them spend lots of time briefing the other on developments. The author is adept at 'speaking' in the internal voices of the two women and keeping them separate.
The actual unfolding of the book is straightforward and evolves by means of clear unexotic policework, with McClellan's background in law enforcement you would expect this. The killer is unmasked as a result of routine investigation and you are not surprised by their identity. As in Penn Valley Phoenix it is the investigative process, and the mental processes of those investigating, which is important, not the conclusion. Both Tru and CB are believable people, as are the other characters in the book, however minor they might be. River Quay is a very good book, and I look forward to reading new Tru North novels as and when the might appear. In particular I'll be interested to see how the Tru/Markie/CB triangle resolves itself!
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