Reviewed by Jim Napier
Great news for fans of Canadian crime writer Barbara Fradkin: after a hiatus of several years while she published novels in her Amanda Doucette and Cedric O’Toole series, the popular and award-winning novelist has returned to her Inspector Green series of stories. For many readers, this is a welcome shift, tracing the career of the veteran Ottawa police detective and his family, not least his daughter, Hannah. More than a little rebellious, Hannah’s relationship with her father has frequently created tension between them, but now in her twenties, Hannah has followed her dad into police work. She’s wisely chosen to be known by her mother’s name to avoid her colleagues making the connection with her well-known father.
A newly-minted uniformed officer, Hannah is paired with veteran officer Rick Geneva. One evening, the two are on a dinner break when they get a call: a domestic dispute in a nearby leafy suburb adjoining the Ottawa River. A neighbour has called it in. Domestics are the bane of uniformed patrols; you never know whether it’s merely a shouting match or a potentially violent event unfolding.
But when the pair arrives at the scene, it seems to be simply a case of a nosy neighbour overreacting. The officers approach the house. Its owner, Ted McAuley, answers the door. Surprised to see them, McAuley insists nothing is wrong, and his wife Kristina verifies that. After speaking with the neighbour, Hannah and Rick return to their patrol.
The call disturbs Hannah, and during her off-hours, she decides to speak again to the wife, who insists there’s nothing to be concerned about. However, before long, an e-mail comes in about a missing person. It’s not the wife, Kristina, who’s missing, but her husband, Ted. It turns out the high-flying lawyer has racked up sizeable debts, and he may be doing a runner. And oddly, the family dog is also missing. Hannah contacts a detective in Missing Persons, who points out that a disappearance is not a crime; Ted McAuley may have simply left on his own.
Some days later, a woman walking her dog in the Ottawa River wetlands finds a bloodied ball cap. Hannah and Rick take the call, finding the partially decomposed remains of a man, wrapped up in an old tarp. As they wait to learn whether the body is a match for the missing husband, Hannah realizes there is still no sign of the family dog.
When Inspector Michael Green learns of Hannah's active interest in the case, he tries to dissuade her from acting on her own. Her partner is a seasoned veteran, he reasons, and she’s only a uniformed officer while investigations are the detectives' purview. But Hannah, being Hannah, pursues the case on her own dime. Another person goes missing, bodies begin to pile up and the crime scenes spread to nearby communities. And Inspector Green becomes increasingly concerned for his willful but determined daughter.
The Devil to Pay is the eleventh novel in the Inspector Green series, and over the years, Barbara Fradkin has garnered an impressive four Best Novel nominations and two wins from the Crime Writers of Canada. Her many fans will, no doubt, be delighted by the return of Inspector Green, now accompanied by his headstrong daughter Hannah, in a tale with a surprise ending.
The Devil to Pay is published by Dundurn.
A reviewer with over six hundred reviews to his credit, Jim Napier is also the author of Legacy and Ridley’s War in the acclaimed British police procedural series, the Colin McDermott mysteries.