Maggie, a victim of spousal abuse, hears screams from across the street and calls the police. Two officers arrive, and find Maggie’s friend, Lucy, on the floor, bleeding, having been coshed in the head with a vase. In the basement, they see a naked dead woman tied to a bed. Lucy’s husband attacks one detective with a machete, killing him. The other fights him off, maybe a bit too hard, smashing his skull after she had handcuffed him, bereft as her partner’s life ebbs onto the floor while she holds him in her arms. Who was this killer? Who is Lucy? Banks investigates. Annie Cabot is charged with looking into charges against the detective who had killed the killer. Psychologist Jenny Fuller looks into Lucy’ past, and the horrors she and other children endured at the hands of insane parents. Banks’ on-again off-again romance with Annie ends when she tells him she wants to concentrate on her career. Jenny, 39, fancies Alan, but they never seem to get together. She may be a reprise character from an earlier novel. In this one, her back story includes her having dashed back to England on the heels of a bad relationship in California with an unfaithful boyfriend, and her having been rescued by Banks in a hostage crisis some time in the past. Alan has to cope with his estranged wife Sandra’s news that she is pregnant, and would he please hurry up with those divorce papers. The title refers to unexpected enduring consequences. (“The evil that men do lives after them”) Lucy suffers from the events of her childhood. Maggie acts based on her own unfortunate experience and causes unintended trouble.
Robinson seems to be using a fairy tale theme here. Teen girls lured to a witch’s oven. Maggie is an illustrator drawing pix for Grimm Fairy Tales. Mention is made of Rapunzel. I found it insufficiently used to work well as a unifying theme.