Grave Decisions is the second Detective Sophie Whitton novel, and a very solid sequel to The Doll Maker, which should definitely be read first.
Still reeling from the Doll Maker case, DI Sophie Whitton and her partner DS Dale Saint investigate the murder of Anita Simmons, whose body was found on top of someone else’s grave. They soon find out that the mother of two, who spent her whole life trying to help others, had her own struggle and secret to hide. When more similar cases seem to appear all over the place, Whitton and her team start looking for a vigilante.
As I wrote in my review for The Doll Maker, I’m not into gory details. I’m more interested in the human aspect, the how of the mystery than the crime itself. I’m happy to say that this novel pretty much met my requirements. I could have done without the rare foray into the criminal’s point of view, which didn’t bring much to the story (not the way it did in The Doll Maker).
That said, I loved the pace of the story, the interactions between Whitton and Saint, and also with the other members of the team, and I think Claire Highton-Stevenson‘s writing is getting better with each book.
Another thing I loved is that Grave Decisions is definitely a crime story but also, very much, about the consequences of The Doll Maker case on Sophie and Rachel, and on their relationship, how both women deal (or don’t deal) with PTSD, how it affects their relationship. Sophie’s doubts and vulnerability make her much more relatable. In the first book, she was unhappy in her relationship, closed off, and only lived for her job. Falling in love with Rachel in far from perfect circumstances, then almost losing her made her rethink her priorities. I hope we’ll get to see more of that relationship, and a lot more of Rachel, in future instalments.