Traces of Red is the second book in The Reluctant Detective Series by Christine Campbell. Once again, the irrepressible Mirabelle helps her soulmate, DI Sam Burns, solve a complicated case but there is no need for you to have read Searching for Summer, the first book in the series, since the back story is gradually revealed during this novel.
Mirabelle has given up her work as a social worker and has turned her small Edinburgh flat into a Missing Person’s Bureau. Usually these are young women, so she is surprised when Kay, a quiet middle class woman, seeks help finding her missing husband. It is soon evident that all has not been right in this marriage and Kay is keen to help Mirabelle by organising her files and accompanying her on investigations.
Meanwhile DI Burns is interviewing a barman at a pub where a baby was found and he is trying to find the mother and her female companion. He enlists Mirabelle’s help when an injured young woman is found but she also helps Sam to deal with the loss of his much loved mother.
All the characters in Christine Campbell’s books are distinct and real. They seem to talk directly to the reader so that it matters what happens to them. The interwoven strands of this story reminded me of Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie books, as does the bittersweet ending to the novel. I highly recommend Traces of Red whether you like mystery, detective or contemporary stories.
You can read an interview with Christine Campbell here