At first glance, Talking to the Dead seems to be a routine police procedural. Cardiff, Wales, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths works herself into the lower rung of a murder investigation.
Someone killed a part-time prostitute Janet Mancini and her six-year-old daughter April. At the scene, police find the credit card of a wealthy man who is missing in an airplane accident.
Police do all the right things. They interview fellow prostitutes, they search thousands of documents, and they work the forensics of the murder scene.
But only Fiona takes a personal interest in the victims. She locates a streetwise social worker. Using information the social worker provides, Fiona works herself to the heart of the case.
Along the way, someone kills another prostitute, Fiona begins to fall in love, a crooked ex-colleague assaults her, and Fiona retreats to her parents' loving home, one of the few places she feels safe.
But all this is the tip of the iceberg. Fiona has a special kinship with the six-year-old victim April. Fiona begins to disassociate, to fall into her long-term mental illness. She begins talking to the dead. (This doesn't happen as you might expect. It is much more powerful than that.)
Her special friend Lev prepares her for the terrifying ending to the story, and Fiona ends up learning something life-altering about herself.
I don't have the words to describe Fiona Griffiths. You must read about her to understand. But there's a warning too. This is a starkly real book. If you aren't comfortable with intimate descriptions of death, you might not be comfortable with Talking to the Dead.