Northumbrian Det. Insp. Vera Stanhope makes her winning U.S. debut in this mildly chaotic police procedural, the fourth entry in a series that’s the basis for Vera, a British TV crime show now filming its third season. When Vera discovers the strangled body of social worker Jenny Lister in the steam room of Newcastle’s Willows Health Club, she assembles her irreverent but loyal crew, who start interviewing the staff. They eventually focus on Danny Shaw, the club’s sly temporary cleaner. Meanwhile, Vera discovers a strong link between several women in Jenny’s village, Barnard Bridge, who all have ties to Jenny and her work with foster families and adoptions. The entire team wisely uses an investigator’s greatest resource: village gossip. Yet it is Stanhope herself—a homely, overweight spinster with blotchy skin, a fondness for alcohol, and a toxic personality—who, using intuition and subtle intimidation, brings all the disorganization to an illogical but satisfying conclusion.