Review by Booklist Review
This third Manon Bradshaw novel follows the acclaimed Persons Unknown (2017), which Val McDermid described as "like walking on quicksand, for reader and detective alike." Manon, a detective inspector with the Cambridgeshire, England, police, is still struggling to hold her life together, somehow succeeding within the chaos. While out walking with her toddler son, she finds a man's body hanging from a tree, revealed to be a Lithuanian agricultural worker. Having been working on cold cases, she is thrust full force into an investigation of what may be suicide or possible murder. What follows is a brutal study of the wretched existence of the victim, a Lithuanian immigrant, who was exploited by his handlers and subjected to anti-immigrant abuse. Manon and her team doggedly pursue justice despite the failings of a police system beset by poor administration and funding, and subject to the demands of the privileged. It's a quicksand of problems with no apparent solutions, but readers will be buoyed by the brilliance of Steiner's dark humor and the power of her narrative. Recommend this to fans of Kate Atkinson, Tana French, and, of course, Val McDermid.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
At the start of Steiner's sluggish third novel featuring Det. Insp. Manon Bradshaw (after 2018's Persons Unknown), Bradshaw, an officer on the Cambridgeshire, England, police force, discovers the body of a young man hanging from a tree in the park. Pinned to the victim's trousers is a note in Lithuanian that translates as "The dead cannot speak"; a card that may be a driver's license identifies him as Lukas Balsys, a Lithuanian immigrant. Bradshaw and her partner, Det. Sgt. Davy Walker, investigate what they suspect is a murder made to look like a suicide. Flashbacks show Lukas and other Lithuanians lured by promises of work to England, where a fellow Lithuanian, Eidikus, soon has them catching chickens in a filthy warehouse and living in toxic houses with bedbug-ridden mattresses on the floor. Two other men are hanged, and another dies in the warehouse. Some humor and the loving exchanges between Bradshaw and her husband provide relief from the grim crimes, but the plot meanders slowly. Steiner has done better. Agent: Eleanor Jackson, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (June)
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Review by Library Journal Review
In her third outing after the best-booked Missing, Presumed and the multi-starred Persons Unknown, Det. Manon Bradshaw is working part-time in the cold cases department of the Cambridgeshire police. Then, walking around her quiet suburban neighborhood with her toddler, she comes across a Lithuanian immigrant dangling from a tree. Suicide? Murder? She's off and running.
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
Steiner's Manon Bradshaw is back on the case, looking to solve the murder of a migrant while seeking the elusive work-life balance. Manon finds herself, in her mid-40s, dealing with the highs and lows of living with her partner, Mark; her toddler, Teddy; and her adopted teenage son, Fly. When she returns to the Cambridgeshire police force to work on cold cases part-time, she misses the glory days of her time as a detective but also embraces the more flexible schedule (with more time for online shopping). But then she discovers a body hanging from a tree, and she's quickly pulled back into the thrill--and chaotic schedule--of active investigation. The dead man is a Lithuanian migrant, so Manon and her earnest partner, Davy, must confront the terrible living and working conditions of people who have come to England seeking better circumstances only to find themselves exploited and hated. As in her other Bradshaw mysteries, Steiner doesn't shy away from confronting the current political climate, and this time she also gives us an honest portrait of a woman, still endearingly human, faced with her own aging as well as the constant exhaustion of caring for her loved ones, pursuing a career, and dealing with a family health crisis. Steiner continues the structure from her previous novels of delivering different chapters from different third-person perspectives, but while this decision adds necessary backstory, it also relegates Manon this time to a more supporting role--and in doing so, makes her feel almost like a caricature of herself rather than a dynamic force of nature with a giant heart. In this case, differentiation has muted, rather than intensified, the novel's energy. Still savvy, sharp, and smart but a step down from Steiner's previous books. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.