Assistant Chief Constable (Operations) Desmond Iles, suspected of murder by his superiors, his fellow cops, a would-be avenger, and the telly, gets help from an unexpected but thoroughly logical quarter.
When detective Raymond Cordovan Street, working undercover for Iles and his chief of staff, DCI Colin Harpur (Close, 2017, etc.), was murdered, Iles was convinced his killers were Paul Favard and Clifford Jamieson. And when the pair were tried, acquitted, and then murdered, suspicion naturally fell on Iles for executing summary justice himself—so much suspicion, in fact, that the new television movie The Forgotten Murders does everything it can short of libel to hint at his guilt. As everyone Iles has ever met watches the show and draws their own baleful conclusions, an unlikely defender of his reputation emerges: Ralph Wyverne Ember, aka Panicking Ralph, the storied local drug lord and dabbler in many unsavory pies. In order to keep the peace in his corner of England, Iles has deliberately gone easy on Ralph and Mansel Shale, his drug-supplying counterpart and sometime partner, and Ralph is convinced that if he were removed from power, any replacement ACC would be less forgiving and more unpredictable. Ralph’s particular target is Naunton "Waistcoat" Favard, the bereaved brother whose own particular target he assumes is Iles. Surveying the damage done to The Monty, his beloved club and aspiring social destination, following a riot during the broadcast of The Forgotten Murders, Ralph becomes certain that only one stroke can possibly rescue Iles: hiring a hit man to make sure that Naunton Favard follows his brother and all those others into eternity. Since Ralph, even when he cites The Waste Land, remains ineffably clueless, complications are bound to arise.
Fans will know that the plot, such as it is, is nothing more than a framework for this year’s addendum to the overbearingly insinuating dialogues and self-deluding monologues James does better than anyone else in the genre.