Detective Inspector Andy Horton’s day begins in true Friday the thirteenth fashion. Horton discovers that during the night someone has scratched a symbol on his treasured Harley. The bike hasn’t been keyed; the symbol is specific enough in its differences to suggest that it represents some group rather than just being malicious damage. His partner, Sergeant Barney Cantelli, wonders if it is a warning, but if so, from whom?
His day moves on rapidly to a meeting with Detective Chief Inspector Lorraine Bliss, the head of CID. When she demands he come into her office, he expects a dressing down but instead he finds himself meeting with two members of the probation service. “Abruptly, Bliss announced, “Luke Felton is missing.” “Horton quickly searched his brain for some recollection of the name. Fortunately it came to him instantly. “The Natalie Raymonds murder in September 1997.” Felton had been serving his fourteen year sentence for the murder but had been released because he was a model prisoner and he had served over two/thirds of his sentence. He even had a good job working for Horton’s ex-father-in-law. Unless he is taking drugs again, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for him to break the rules of his probation.
When a body is discovered at Portsmouth Harbour, Horton wonders if Luke Felton has been found quite quickly. But the body has been in the water for too long so another case is added to Horton’s workload. The police need to interview Felton’s family, a brother and sister who prefer to pretend that Luke was not blood. Ashley Felton is a successful businessman and Oliva Danbury has married up the financial ladder. Luke was the middle child and seems to have suffered from a self-image that cut himself short. Neither sibling has seen Luke and neither want to do so; Luke had confessed to killing Natalie Raymonds and had placed himself outside the family circle.
As Horton and Cantelli look for Luke, other bodies appear, none seemingly connected to another. Horton even receives a threatening phone call from a man with an accent that is decidedly not British. The story becomes incresingly complicated as the events of 1997 encroach on those in the present day.
FOOTSTEPS ON THE SHORE is a tightly written police procedural with interesting characters whom the reader wants to meet again. The problems in Portsmouth, England are the same as those in Portsmouth, New Hampshire making the crimes and the criminals who commit them familiar enough that we are two countries united by our battles with the stupidity and greed of the few. A few months ago I read and reviewed DEAD MAN’S WHARF. I wrote that I would be reading other books in the series and I will continue to keep to that goal.