Chief Superintendent Fran Harman is the main character in what is now a three book series with the third - STILL WATERS recently released. LIFE SENTENCE introduced Fran, followed by COLD PURSUIT in which Fran, on the verge of retirement in the first book, finds herself cajoled back into active duty due to staff shortages and a particularly odd case.
Somebody is committing minor assaults - happy slapping - young women, with increasing frequency, but there are some worryingly sexual elements to some of the assaults. Fran is supervising the investigation team - which rapidly expands into teams as the investigations seem to indicate two sets of crimes. Whilst they are trying to find any possible leads on their happy-slappers, Fran discovers that one of the media pack pursuing them over that case is being stalked in her own right. When her long-time friend DCI Jill Tanner is injured at home, Fran also finds herself up to her elbows in finding out what's going on there as well. As her hoped for slowing down, and a switch to a career as a university lecturer seems to recede further into the distance, it doesn't help that one of the senior officers doing the cajoling to stay on is her lover Mark Tanner. Just to complicate matters they are taking some rather hesitant steps towards cohabitation; so in the middle of multiple investigations, there's house-hunting to be done.
The plot of COLD PURSUIT is different - nobody dies horribly - but a lot happens and there's a realistic feeling of an over-worked investigation team, trying to juggle a lot of things all at the same time. Fran is really the focus of these books and as a "woman of a certain age" she has a way about her - part fussy / part no nonsense / part giddy girl in love. There's occasionally just a bit too much of that giddy breathlessness, but that is balanced by some nice touches of humour and a healthy dose of pig-headedness that makes her, as a character, balance a fine line between slightly annoying and actually quite engaging.
There's possibly a bit too much ancillary information, and at points you feel you could pick the villages and houses that Fran and Mark are considering in a line up, but that's part of the style of the book - chatty / light / romantic / lively, and as much as I keep wondering why, I really did like Chief Superintendent Fran Harman.