A 10-year-old girl goes missing, and the police force of the Avon and Somerset CID foes into hyperdrive. The girl’s parents are divorced; the mother’s an addict who’s living with a registered sex offender. But every lead is frittering away into nothing. Detective Sergeant Jane Winter is called back from vacation in the Lake District, where she was mountain climbing with Detective Inspector Dick Nixon. He’s not called back, because he’s still recovering from near-death in a burning factory on his last case (Heads or Tails).
When a second girl goes missing, the frenzied pace of the police ratchets up even further. Roger Poland, director of the police pathology lab, demands that Dixon be called back – the second missing girl is Poland’s granddaughter.
And lawyer-turned-policeman Dixon does indeed return, and immediately begins to turn the investigation upside down. A lot of people on the force don’t like Dixon, but he gets results and solves cases. That may be why they don’t like him.
Dead Lock is the eighth Nick Dixon police detective story by British writer Damien Boyd. Just when I think Boyd couldn’t possibly top the last story, he manages to do exactly that.
Dixon is an unconventional policeman. He thinks differently. He points out what should be obvious (like how to disguise a license plate and divert attention to the wrong suspects). Just because a child is missing doesn’t mean the parents shouldn’t be questioned, and closely. He pays attention to documents and knows how to read a contract. And he’s not above calling in some off-the-wall resources.
He’s also diabetic, recovering from that close brush with death, and wondering if his girlfriend Jane Winters wants to marry him after all.
As the investigation progresses (it’s actually compressed in just a few days), Dixon and the police are drawn toward the lock and dam system of southern England. Too many of the people involved are also involved with boats, marinas, and canals.
Dead Lock is another great mystery story in the Nick Dixon series. Boyd can’t write these fast enough.
Top photograph: The Caen Hill Locks in southern England by Arpingstone via . Used with permission.