This was a bit of a letdown from previous books in the series. I settled on 3 stars as a rating, but I have a feeling I'll be coming back to this later in the week and re-rating it at 2.5 stars. First off, the editing in this book was atrocious. There were periods in place of commas, numerous instances of ‘is’ used in place of ‘in’, and the word sterilizer was spelled with an 's' and a 'z' in the same paragraph. I guess the editor couldn't decide on the UK spelling or the American spelling, so they decided to go with both and hoped nobody would notice. One of the suspects is referred to as both Sylvie and Sylvia throughout the book – according to Google it’s supposed to be Sylvie. What irritated me the most however, were the sections of font that randomly changed size half-way through a sentence and then changed back a paragraph later, once again half-way through a sentence. Needless to say, all these issues kept me from fully immersing myself in the story.
Just like the previous book in the series, Death of a Hollow Man, it takes almost half the book to really get started. The long set-up made sense in the previous novel because Inspector Barnaby was supposed to be familiar with all of the suspects, but it didn't work in this book. The book felt heavily padded and drawn out. Furthermore, once the mystery gets started, instead of focusing on the investigation the author made the decision to continue focusing on the lives of the suspects. I wanted to read a mystery not a soap opera.
Another puzzling decision made by the author was to spend more time with Sergeant Troy's POV. In the first two books he was almost there as a background character, with an occasional peek into his head. I mentioned in a previous review how every moment with his POV is extremely uncomfortable, so I'm a little confused as to why the author chose to write more of this novel from his perspective. Sergeant Troy is best used in small doses and it felt overdone.
I really wasn't impressed with this book overall. Though I've only read three books in this series, I have to say this is by far the worse. The author made a number of decisions in the narrative that left me scratching my head, including adding an Epilogue at the end that summarized the suspect’s lives after the murderer was brought to justice. Over 300 pages of these characters apparently wasn’t enough. The mystery itself was an afterthought and based off the flimsy evidence that Inspector Barnaby was able to collect, there was no way he should have been able to get a conviction. Huh? I actually made it to the end of this review before changing my mind. 2 ½ stars.