A quiet neighbor may be a dead neighbor.
The tenants of Ashbourne House, recently converted into seven flats by motherly Beattie Weyman, are not jelling into the surrogate family she’d hoped for. Major Phillips and headmistress Barnes are standoffish, except with each other; Mr. Wormsley, an alias, has barricaded himself behind security devices fit for the secret service; alcoholic ex-actress Vanessa Winter is bossing and bickering with her daughter Sheila, who’s finally turning a tiny profit with her Garden Centre and secretly planning to elope; peripatetic Martin Chisholm and emotionally fragile Neil Raynes decline to explain why they’re sharing digs; and Detective Sergeant Rosemary Zycynski, called “Z” at the Thames Valley station house (The Body of a Woman, 2003, etc.), calls herself a civil servant rather than admit she’s a copper. So many people, so many secrets, most of which will come out when poor Sheila, wearing a dated mink coat over nothing but stab wounds, is found dead in a borrowed car in a Henley-on-Thames pub carpark. DS Beaumont and Z, both angling for the next Inspector’s post, work the case under the deft supervision of Deputy Supt. Mike Yeadings and the inept bungling of DI Salmon. Suspects and motives proliferate, as does more mayhem: Z’s concussion and Wormsley’s murder.
Irritatingly tricky, with a plethora of sidetracks, subplots, and entangled bios, plus a wrap-up that falls, like the last corpse, with a great thud.