The Sting of Death has a cast of interesting, if not particularly likable, characters. I've not read any of Tope's other books, but evidently she has combined the protagonists from two different series for this book.
Det. Sergeant Den Cooper joins forces with Drew Slocombe to discover what has happened to Justine Pereira, who has apparently disappeared. The investigation is instigated by Justine's cousin, Penn.
This is a tale of dysfunctional families and self-involved individuals. The police procedural aspect seems quite casual and unrealistic, but the way the author continues expanding our knowledge of the characters is what keeps the story interesting. Information accumulates, and as it does, the reader becomes more and more unsure of all the characters. Even though I thought I knew who was responsible, each new tidbit opened more possibilities.
And then...the original disappearance is no longer the main plot thread. Even when the villain is in custody, there are further revelations. The characters are so wrapped up in themselves, so self-absorbed that they all view each new development only in light of the effect it will have on them.
The novel intrigued me. Usually, I need likable characters first and foremost, but most of the likable characters in The Sting of Death are so bland, especially Det. Sergeant Cooper and Drew Slocumbe. Maggs, Drew's partner, has some charisma and is interesting, but most of the interesting characters are pretty unpleasant. Each one is flawed, and each one bears some guilt concerning the outcome.
Fiction. Mystery. 2002. 302 pages.