When several members of the diplomatic service die in seemingly innocent, yet strangely similar circumstances, it seems a unique form of murder is being used.
Toby Greene is part of Section 37, known as The Clown Service, a mostly forgotten branch of British Intelligence tasked with fighting exactly this kind of threat.
However, the Rain-Soaked Bride is no ordinary assassin. Relentless, inexorable and part of a larger game, merely stopping this impossible killer may not be enough to save the day…
The first book in this series, The Clown Service, took me by surprise earlier this summer. While the concept and its bright cover intrigued me sufficiently to pick it up, I hadn’t expected to enjoy it as much as I did. I was utterly charmed by Toby, his supervisor August Shining, Shining’s sister April and their neighbour Tamar. The Rain-Soaked Bride was already on my TBR-pile and I started it as soon as I could, because I couldn’t wait to get back to Toby and friends.
The start of the book deals with the fall-out from the previous book in quite an interesting way. Unfortunately going into some of it, would give huge spoilers for both book one and book two, but one of the non-spoilery elements I really liked was the way Adams developed the working relationship Shining and Toby. They seem to have settled into a solid partnership and I loved the understanding that’s grown between them in the six months or so between the books. While Toby is sometimes still baffled by his boss’ eccentricities, he’s learned to trust in his judgement and act accordingly.
The Toby who is the star in this instalment of the Clown Service series, is a different person from the one we met in The Clown Service. He’s become far more self-confident and capable in this novel, a fact that comes to the fore once we move into the actual investigation of the Rain-Soaked Bride murders. He’s also gotten more of a handle on his PTSD and I liked how Adams actually incorporated this into the plot. Toby is a very sympathetic main character and it’s very easy to root for him. My other favourite character in this book was April. This time Shining’s sister is a far larger part of the book and she is both hilarious and a force of nature in the narrative. I loved discovering more of her history and seeing her in action. She’s morphed from the McGonagall/Harriet Bouquet vision I had of her in The Clown Service into someone more resembling Dame Judi Dench in her M incarnation, only more smiley.
Once again, Adams offers us an interesting mystery to ponder, though there is a bigger whodunnit quality to this one. The Rain-Soaked Bride, a mysterious apparition that kills any who see her, assassinates several important British diplomats and it’s unclear who is behind the orders to eliminate these people. Toby and Shining not only have to figure out who the Rain-Soaked Bride is exactly, but also who sent her. Something that only becomes more complicated when the story moves from a general murder mystery to a locked room puzzle. The tension increases enormously as the number of victims pile up around trade negotiations between the UK and South-Korea, which are taking place in a secure mansion in the British countryside and Shining and Toby, together with April, are the only ones able to solve the mystery, because they are the only ones prepared to accept a supernatural explanation.
The Rain-Soaked Bride is another highly entertaining and action-packed story of the Clown Service, one I enjoyed tremendously. If anything, the book is even better than the first book in the series as Adams has more time to devote to the plot and character development side of things, as he doesn’t need to establish his setting. The book doesn’t standalone, however; even if the mystery in the book is solved, the story isn’t concluded and reading the previous book is necessary to understand some of the choices Toby and Shining make in this one. Adams leaves us with a huge plot hook for the next instalment and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. If you enjoyed The Clown Service, The Rain-Soaked Bride is a must-read. If you’ve not read The Clown Service, I recommend you start there and get the most out of your reading experience.
This book was provided for review by the publisher.