When a corpse is found in the freezer of an unoccupied mansion, DS Alexandra Cupidi is handed a case made even colder by nobody seeming to know - or care - who the dead man is.
Her investigation is complicated by suggestions of a political cover-up linked to a greenfield site designated for a high-profile housing project, plus the discovery there of a young boy's skeleton dating from decades earlier. Might there be a link?
Cupidi's professional life is complicated by adjustment to being a parochial cop after an ill-advised liaison with a fellow officer in the Met resulted in her relocation to the flatlands of Kent.
William Shaw's book deals intelligently with the conflicting interests of progress and traditional country values while making superb use of the Dungeness landscape as a backdrop to murder, corruption and the unseen struggles of local wildlife. I was totally hooked by the brief, inspired, chapters by the old badger.
I won't give further plot spoilers, but must mention the author's mastery of character, especially that between women: Cupidi's difficult relationship with her spiky teenage daughter, Zoe; her distance from her own, eccentric, mother; her evolving partnership with young, man-magnet colleague Jill Ferriter.
It was excellent news to discover that this police procedural is one of a series featuring this complex but likeable female officer. I have already ordered my second, Salt Lane, but be warned that you may wish to read them in the proper order.
And don't worry about that badger. He isn't in the least bit twee and has important things to teach the reader.