"...the humour English works into her narrative gives light and shade to the novel. "
Penny Wade is a social worker who has become an 'accidental sleuth'. She is trying to re-establish herself professionally, having left her job after becoming 'over-involved' in a case. She has to contend with wary colleagues, a probationary period and a hostile boss.
Her personal life has also given her some knocks, and she and her friend Gloria are involved in online dating to try and find relationships that will work. So far, they have drawn a blank, with a series of disastrous first dates.
Penny takes on a new case at work, a young mother, Ashley, with two children who is being accused of neglect and possible child abuse by the children's school. Penny must tread carefully. Her first instincts are to sympathise with the very young, clearly depressed mother, and her two bright, troubled children. She believes the children are not being abused, but she isn't certain, and her boss, warning her against 'overinvolvement', puts a tight deadline on the time she has to demonstrate the family needs support rather than being split up.
And then Penny hits the dating jackpot. She meets the charming, handsome, successful Erik. She quickly becomes emotionally involved, but after they spend their first night together, Erik falls silent, and Penny is afraid she has been 'ghosted'. But then she finds out that Erik is dead – drowned in an unexplained boating accident. She begins to have suspicions that he was murdered and starts to dig around and ask questions.