Superintendent Kincaid's neighbor has died. She had terminal cancer and did not have long to live. So who would have murdered her? At first, it looked like suicide, but things don't add up for Kincaid- there was no note and the neighbor had arranged to visit her brother that weekend. Suspicious, Kincaid orders the English version of an autopsy and so begins the mystery.
Crombie knows how to write characters. Kincaid stumbles across the victim's diary and we are treated to a rich backstory. The suspects, Kincaid and his partner Gemma James all face serious personal issues. For example, divorced Gemma thinks her husband has skipped town, refusing to pay child support. One suspect has an emotionally abusive boyfriend. Each situation is handled well and realistically. You feel invested and care what happens.
The mystery is well done. I figured out who did it, but not the motive. At the end, you are given the last piece of a fairly complex puzzle. Normally that annoys me. I like it all there so I can figure it out ahead of time. But this mystery had so many moving parts it was nice to see it all come together finally.
If I had to describe these books, I'd have to say English mystery in a cozy vein with a bit of an edge to them. This book did improve upon the first, and I'm looking forward to continuing with the series.