Nicholas Wixley looks like he’s on top of the world. A barrister who ‘s just been named a judge, he’s spending the long Easter weekend at the holiday home in northern Wales owned by him and his wife. And his wife, a high-ranking police official in Manchester, is elsewhere. He’s there for the sailing, for relaxation, and for the high-class escort woman who just left his house. The doorbell rings, and he answers it. He sees who it is, and he frowns.
The next day, the cleaning lady finds Wixley in his bedroom, his throat slit, and an “E” carved into his chest. Detective Inspector Ian Drake and Detective Sergeant Sara Morgan of the Wales Police Service are called away from holiday plans to investigate. Because the victim is the spouse of a police official, even one from Manchester, the pressure is on to find the killer as quickly as possible.
From the beginning, Drake and Morgan find nothing straightforward. The murder looks to be a copycat of serial murders from some years before, and for which a man is serving several life sentences. Except it’s too close to be only a copycat – details never disclosed are included in the murder scene. The murderer is someone who had access to undisclosed court files.
Drake and Morgan interview colleagues of the victim, spouses of colleagues, fellow sailboat owners, and friends, and slowly come to realize that nothing is what it seems on the surface. The victim had traces of cocaine in his nose. There are possible ties to organized crime. The victim’s wife may have dirty hands in getting police investigations stopped.
Written in Blood by Welsh writer Stephen Puleston is another fast-paced installment in the Detective Ian Drake series. It’s full of twists and turns, lawyers with secrets to hide, a host of possible suspects, and Drake’s growing romance with his new girlfriend, which seems to be having a calming effect on his obsessive-compulsive disorder (he’s not washing his hands nearly as much as he did in the first novel).
Puleston publishes two series of Welsh police detective stories. Detective Inspector Ian Drake is with the North Wales Police Service, and Detective Inspector John Marco is with the South Wales Police Service. Written in Blood is the sixth Inspector Drake mystery.
Drake often drives his commanding officers and other superiors crazy, but they know he always gets results. And in Written in Blood, he will tirelessly track the killer down.
Top photograph: Cardigan Bay in Wales, showing the kind of view the murder victim had in Written in Blood. Photo courtesy Cardigan Bay Tourist Board.