Even though it’s in Scotland, a housewarming party is the scene of a classic English murder mystery.
Barrister Rex Graves has recently purchased an attractive property on Loch Lown in the Scottish Highlands. He and his girlfriend, Helen D’Arcy, have invited a disparate group to enjoy their hospitality. Graves’s colleague Alistair Frazer is moping over his failure to convict a man he is sure is the child killer of the Moor. The Farquharsons are an upper-crust couple prepared to hunt and gossip. The Allerdice family includes local hotelier Hamish, his wife Shona and their daughter Flora, who is devoted to her learning-disabled brother Donnie. The Allerdices have brought along their guest Rob Roy Beardsley, a freelance journalist trying to prove that famed monster Nessie has siblings living in the smaller lochs. Despite a torrential rainstorm, all goes reasonably well until Rex’s former love Moira Wilcox arrives. Sleeping arrangements must be changed to fit in the flirtatious Moira and the Allerdice family, who had planned to return to the hotel. The next morning, Moira’s naked body is found in the loch. The phone line has been cut, all the car tires have been slashed and every cell phone has gone missing. The police are busy with the latest child killing, so it’s up to Rex to figure out which of his guests murdered his former lover.
Rex’s fourth case (Phi Beta Murder, 2010, etc.) is a slim volume in the style of Agatha Christie, lightweight but fun to read.