Detective Inspector David Graham has just arrived on Jersey in the English Channel, where he’s been appointed to lead the police force. He’s barely put his luggage down in his hotel room when a murder is reported. The body of a retired oncologist who’s been living at the hotel has been buried on the beach, found by the man who was getting ready to propose to her.
The medical examiner suspects murder, although the body bear so no signs of violence. He determines that the cause of death was asphyxiation, brought on by a heart arrythmia. But she’d been perfectly healthy, and so he suspects poison.
That’s not the only mystery; the time of death is uncertain. It’s likely that she was poisoned with a glass of wine brought with her lunch and left outside her door, except the glass is missing. Graham and his team have their work cut out for them.
Suspects abound, too, including the almost fiancée, a wife who suspects her husband has been having affair with the retired doctor, a man whose son died from cancer while under the doctor’s care, and more.
The Case of the Hidden Flame is the second in the DI David Graham series by Alison Golden, and it’s a charming (and relatively short) mystery lacking any gory detail (“ a little foam around the mouth” is as gory as it gets).
Golden has three mystery and suspense series involving signature detectives. The Diana Hunter series is set in Vancouver; the series includes Hunted, Snatched, Stolen, Chopped, and Exposed. The Rev. Annabelle Dixon series is set in Cornwall. And the Inspector David Graham series is set on Jersey, one of the Channel Islands. The last two are officially “cozy mysteries,” which translates as minimal violence and any romantic interest will not involve graphic sex. Golden also includes recipes mentioned in the books at the end of the Anabelle Dixon stories. Raised in Bedfordshire, England, Golden now lives in the San Francisco area.
The Case of the Hidden Flame is an easy-reading story perfect for vacations. If I lived near a beach, I would have read it while sitting in my beach chair under a large umbrella, while keeping an eye out for anyone who might want to slip something in my drink.