Clare Curzon sets her crimes in the leafy Thames Valley, a lovely enough part of old England where one of the old villages seem right out of a nineteenth-century painting. But people are the same mix of good and bad whatever scenery surrounds them, and Superintendent Mike Yeadings has as much human dissolution to deal with as if he policed the London streets. Searching for a killer in The Body of a Woman, the superintendent and his sergeants, Beaumont and Rosemary Zyczynski, encounter as diverse a group of involved citizens as could be found anywhere.
The victim herself is a puzzle. The corpse, clad in carnival dress and with a huge bird’s-head mask hiding her face, is revealed to be a respectable, conservatively behaved woman of the town, a woman whom no one would ever have imagined made up and dressed so bizarrely. How did she come, not only to be brutally murdered, but done up so garishly? Yeadings and his team must look in every direction, starting with the dead woman's womanizing professor husband and her distressed teenage stepdaughter. How is the star-crossed mathematician (who studies chaos theory at the roulette table) connected to the dead woman? Through his drug-damaged son? Could she have been close to---have even known the successful bookie, his family, his bodyguards? The police have good reasons for looking at all the people in this psychological merry-go-round, and another attempted murder only complicates their work, spreading the suspicion to touch even more of the town's kaleidoscope of citizens.
As always, at the center of Curzon's suspenseful and puzzling story is the likeable, reliable Yeadings, as genuine a police officer as any you might find in the English countryside. He goes after his villains armed with a mix of experience and common sense---and real-life personal problems that only add to his believability. Readers can be certain that Inspector Yeadings and his sergeants will get their prey---if only after overcoming highly suspenseful odds.