Julie Armstrong has been for a 'night out with the girls' and arrives home, barely sober, to find her son Luke in the bath, apparently drowned, scented water and flowers floating on the surface. Whatever happened, her daughter Laura has slept through it all. Inspector Vera Stanhope of the Northumbrian police, is the investigating officer. Soon there is a second body, this time young student teacher Lily Marsh. She too is found lying in a pool of water strewn with flowers but this time in an fairly inaccessible part fo the coastline. The subsequent investigation which Vera leads works rather like peeling back the layers of the onion, seeking the connections between the two deaths. And are they connected to an earlier drowning where mourners threw flowers onto the river where another young man died? This is #3 in the Vera Stanhope series: in tall, lumpy Vera Cleeves has almost created a female equivalent of Reginald Hill's Andy Dalziel. Perhaps that's being unkind to Vera, but she is every bit as clever, as intuitive. I intend to read the 2 earlier books, THE CROW TRAP (1999) and TELLING TALES (2005), to get better acquainted.