Helping an old pal puts a Scottish barrister in danger.
Rex Graves, QC, routinely takes time out from his duties as a prosecutor to solve murders as a hobby. His old university friend Malcolm Patterson has become a pathologist and left Edinburgh for Bedfordshire. When four horrific murders are committed in Malcolm’s community of Notting Hamlet, he quite reasonably calls Rex for help. Both men have lost their wives, but while Rex is engaged to be married, Malcolm is stuck in the doldrums; he’s even quit his job. Now he admits to Rex that upon discovering each corpse, he tampered with the crime scene, since someone seemed to have written his initials, M.N.P., in blood on each victim’s forehead. Rex is furious but agrees to investigate. The police suspect the real estate agent who’d been trying to sell the homes of all the murder victims. Strolling through the neighborhood while walking the neighbor’s dog, Rex picks up a good deal of local gossip. Two interesting new possibilities are a young man who claims to be searching for his birth mother and a striking foreign couple who looked at a few of the houses. Following up on those two encounters, Rex uncovers some nasty secrets that lead him to peril and enlightenment.
Rex’s seventh (Murder at Midnight, 2014, etc.) reveals too much early on to offer much of a puzzle, but it’s still fun to follow the clues.