I think I've read about all of Turnbull's books, and they have in common that they are all about the plod and grit of police work. You won't find any scenes of torture or gruesome details of the crimes as they are committed. In fact, like this story, many of his books are about cold cases where the police have only skeletal remains to get started. But it's the logical working out of the problem, without the twists and coincidences that mar other writers' work that appeals to me. This book had twists in the plot but they were interesting, organic things and not injected for any prurient reasons. Even though this is the latest in a series, each book is a standalone and I don't think you would need to have worked your way up through the others to enjoy this one.
GIFT WRAPPED is a contemporary police procedural set in England. A series of intriguing postcards, each with the word “murder” in a different language are sent to local charity center. A volunteer there turns them over to the police and an investigation is undertaken by DCI Hennessey’s team. Eventually several murders, both present and past, are uncovered and investigated
The mystery of these crimes, and exactly who sent the postcards, and why, is interesting and handled well, with a few false leads and some interesting twists. Early in the novel the police are ready to announce that everything is solved. But wait! Everything is not as simple as it seems.
The problem for me was the characters. For a police procedural to be successful, the characters have to hold the reader’s interest. These didn’t. I plodded through the early pages hoping to find something to hold my attention. Sadly, these characters weren’t very interesting. The plot did pick up more in the second half of the book as the investigation took off, eventually leading to a satisfyingly ambiguous solution, but it was too late by then. All the investigators seemed the same to me and I had little concern about what happened to them or what happened to the people being investigated.
This was surprising because I had read some of Mr. Turnbull’s short stories with DCI Hennessey and his team and enjoyed them. But in the novel form, the characters seemed lifeless.