Barry Maitland was born in Scotland and grew up in London. He pursued a career in architecture, writing a number of books on architecture and urban design. In 1984, he emigrated to Australia, where he took up the position of Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales. He retired from the University to write full time in 2000. He lives in Australia. The first of his crime novels was published in 1994. They feature Detective Chief Inspector David Brock and his colleague, Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla, and are set in London.
DI Kathy Kolla of Scotland Yard is called in as a matter of course by the local Paddington police when a woman turns up dead in what appears to be an accident. On her houseboat, Vicky Hawks is found by one of her neighbors having apparently succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning due to improper ventilation of the narrowboat’s heating system. But while the cause of death seems apparent and there’s no reason for Kolla to think otherwise, something about this death still bothers her.
Meanwhile, her boss, DCI Brock, is wrestling with harsh budget cuts and a new Commander who is determined to make fundamental changes to the system—including limiting resources devoted to investigations. Struggling against the limitations imposed by the new order at Scotland Yard, Brock and Kolla find themselves pulling at the loose strings in the death of Vicky Hawks, trying to find out who she really was, what she was up to, and how her death might be related to another earlier tragic accidental death.