I have read the 132nd book for the book challenge. It was Hidden Depths: A Vera Stanhope Novel by Ann Cleeves.
Seventeen-year-old Luke Armstrong is found dead in his home. He has been strangled and submerged in the bathtub and covered with flowers. It seems like a ritual killing. He was found by his mother who was coming home from a night out. His sister was home during the killing and heard nothing.
Then a young college student, Lily Marsh, is found floating in a pool of water, also strangled and covered with flowers. She was found by little James Calvert and four men: Peter Calvert, Samuel Parr, Clive Stringer, and Gary Wright. Calvert’s wife, Felicity was also there. Lily Marsh had attempted to rent the Calvert’s cottage a few days previously.
It turns out that Gary Wright has been seeing Julie Armstrong, Luke’s mother. Samuel Parr is having an affair with Felicity Armstrong. Peter Calvert had been having an affair with Lily Marsh but had tried to break it off. Clive Stringer lives with his mother and had been close to the Sharp family. Luke Armstrong had been close friends with young Tom Sharp who had drowned a while back. Lily had received a card with a pressed flower and ‘XXX’ on the back. Luke too received a card with a pressed flower. Now Laura his sister has received a card with a pressed flower and she has been kidnapped.
Vera and her team look everywhere for Laura. They think perhaps Samuel may have her. It is the anniversary of Parr’s wife’s suicide, but he is at the cemetery. They know Gary Wright is not the culprit. They also know it is not Peter Calvert. They go to Deepden, the birding sanctuary. They look in the cottage. Someone has been there but there is no one there now. They search the bushes and pools, hoping that he has not killed young Laura. They finally come upon a shed. There they find Clive Stringer and young Laura. Laura is tied up and gagged. Clive throws a lantern and starts a fire. Vera grabs Laura and rescues her from the fire. Clive stays in the shed and burns to death in the fire.
Clive murdered Lily because she wouldn’t break off the affair with Peter. He did it to protect Peter. He murdered Luke because he blamed him for Tom Sharpe’s death. He was going to kill Laura because he enjoyed the killing and the control it gave him. He moved Lily’s body in a stolen car and got to Luke’s house also in a stolen car. This is what Davy Sharpe was going to tell Vera when he called her from prison before she went to Deepden.
This was a great mystery. You could figure out who did it through the process of elimination. Often in Ann Cleeves mysteries you can’t figure out who did it because she withholds information but this one you could. I quite like it.