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Dark Mirror: A Brock and Kolla Mystery    by Barry Maitland order for
Dark Mirror
by Barry Maitland
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

In Dark Mirror, Barry Maitland's tenth novel and another in the popular Brock and Kolla mystery series, readers are invited to travel to contemporary London where a complicated whodunit will challenge even the most experienced reading-room sleuths.

When the action begins, an attractive young PhD candidate, Marion Summers, dies a mysterious death in the London Library. Early evidence suggests she died of arsenic poisoning, but DI Kathy Kolla and DCI David Brock soon learn that their early presumption of criminal homicide might actually be nothing more than a tragic suicide.

However, even in the face of the apparent evidence, Kolla remains skeptical. After all, she cannot fathom why a woman would commit suicide when she seemed so enthusiastically dedicated to her research into the lives (and deaths) of pre-Raphaelite painters and poets - especially the circle of artists and friends surrounding Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Perhaps Summers' academic mentor can shed some light on the enigma. On the other hand, perhaps the dead woman's unsavory, predatory stepfather knows something useful. Even an obsessive researcher with a penchant for covert photography (and the sole witness to Summers' death) might be able to add something to the story. Could Summers' employer, friends, and lover have important information?

In the face of all the lingering questions, Kolla and Brock are certain of only one thing: They have too few pieces of the puzzle, and some that they already have simply don't fit. So, they must persist in their investigation. Before it is finally resolved, though, more than a few people will be embarrassed, some long-hidden secrets will be revealed, and someone else will die.

Fans of solid police procedurals will find much to admire in the highly recommended Dark Mirror, an intricate tale centering on 'the most difficult case the team {of Kolla and Brock} has ever faced.'

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