In Murder in Thrall, Cleeland has young detective Kathleen Doyle chosen by the eminent Chief Inspector Acton as a partner. This behavior is unusual for the aloof Acton, but Doyle's ability to determine when a person is lying or telling the truth makes their partnership successful.
Acton did not choose to partner with Doyle strictly on her abilities, however. The Chief Inspector, actually Lord Acton, developed an intense interest in the young detective, in spite of her much lower social rank, background, and financial situation. Doyle is not aware of this and is worried about the impression she makes on her handsome senior. Each mistake she makes sends Doyle into a tizzy of concern that she will be sent back to traffic, unaware that Acton has no intention of ending their partnership.
Doyle's interest in increasing her vocabulary to impress Acton is amusing, especially since he isn't really interested in her linguistic skills. When the two become involved in the murder of a trainer at a racetrack, their relationship begins to reach another level.
Like the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma Jones mysteries by Deborah Crombie and the Barbara Havers and Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George, we have a male/female pairing that is as important as the mysteries themselves. Kathleen Doyle has her own personality and is definitely not a Gemma Jones or Barbara Havers clone. The same can be said of Chief Inspectior Acton, even if he is a Lord.
An interesting twist to the Acton/Doyle relationship sets the novel apart as well. While Doyle is a likable protagonist, there were times when she annoyed me with her easy acceptance of an unusual situation.
Mystery/Police Procedural. 2013. 288 pages.