Body of lies by Sarah Bailey

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The 4th book starring DS Gemma Woodstock is a thrilling ride with many twists and turns and a very unexpected conclusion. Gemma has returned to Smithson with her family, baby Scarlett, her son Ben and partner Mac. When a young woman is involved in a car crash and her body stolen from the morgue, Gemma, although on parental leave, is intrigued by the case. Then a prominent citizen is murdered and Gemma becomes emmeshed in the intricacies of the clues and people surrounding the crime. She is devastated by secrets that involve her and danger stalks her and her family.

Gemma is a brusque and determined woman who confidently uses her intelligence to follow up leads. Family dynamics play a key role in Body of lies. I liked the fact that Gemma was operating as a detective and mother simultaneously. It was fascinating to picture her with little Scarlett strapped to her body, going about the business of interviewing witnesses and pursuing clues, determined to uncover the identity of the woman stolen from the morgue and the person who caused her death. Clues stack up and Gemma is left bewildered about secrets that unfold, leaving her wondering who she can trust. The denouement is mind shattering and almost unbelievable, although on reflection there are pointers throughout the book for astute readers.

I had read the first in the series, The dark lake, in 2018, and found that I easily picked up Body of lies as a near stand-alone, but readers who have followed all the books in the series would better follow the motivations of the characters. I will read up more books by Sarah Bailey, and readers may enjoy books by Simon Rowell, Chris Hammer and Christian White.

Themes: Murder, Missing persons, Family relations, Detectives.

Pat Pledger