In his second novel, Love Story, with Murders, Harry Bingham brings back the quirky but endearing D.C. Fiona Griffiths. Fiona has never been your standard British police officer—or your typical person, for that matter. Subject to Cotard’s syndrome, or "walking corpse syndrome," she admittedly associates more closely with the dead than the living. Fiona’s odd disorder and unorthodox investigation methods make her a standout character among police procedurals.
Fiona’s day goes from simple to complicated when an illegal dumping turns up a severed leg at the bottom of a freezer. The foot’s pink suede pump identifies the victim as Mary Langton, subsequently opening up a 10-year-old missing persons case that could possibly involve Fiona’s father, strip club owner and ex-criminal extraordinaire. As the police search the quiet Cardiff neighborhood for more of Mary, they come across more body parts belonging to another person, turning their macabre murder investigation into two.
Despite starting off slow, the story’s second half is fast-paced and gripping. Bingham does an excellent job of balancing several plotlines and developing Fiona’s character. Due to her disorder, which makes her more curious about than sympathetic to the dead, she has an unpredictable nature and uncanny humor, which entertain and baffle at times. Only when she experiences her own brush with death does she admit, “Fear has a color. A taste and a feel.” Her character blooms and becomes easier to understand, especially as she confronts other intense emotions, such as love.
Throughout the novel Bingham teases the reader as Fiona seeks to solve her own mysterious past, but unfortunately, nothing is developed or executed on this front. Perhaps readers will have to wait until the third installment in this series to see what makes Fiona Griffiths tick.