The deceased was propped up in Hammermith Park with cash in its pocket, an expensive leather jacket on its back, a gold signet ring on the middle finger of its right hand, and a stab wound straight to its heart, but no identification. So the immediate task for Shepherd’s Bush DI Bill Slider and his sidekick, DS Atherton, is to name him and find out what he was doing in the park in the middle of the night. Chatting up Atherton’s tailor and Sonny Collins, manager of the Phoenix, a nearby pub, they identify the victim as Unlucky Lenny, a shakedown artist for loan shark Herbie Weedon, a sometime pimp and the owner and seller of three similar leather jackets, one of which the tailor recognizes on wealthy Trevor Bates’s chauffeur/bodyguard. While Slider and Atherton search for Teena, the lowlife’s semi-favorite tart, more bodies pile up—another thug, the publican, the loan shark, a hooker—and there are clues leading to a villain known as the Needle, and debauchery and worse that began in Hong Kong. By the time Teena and all the jacket wearers are found, Slider and Atherton will realize that drugs, prostitutes, payoffs, and partnerships that went sour on one angry nabob account for most of the murders—but not that of Unlucky Lenny, whose killer will get off with a reduced sentence for manslaughter.
Attention romantics: Slider and Joanna are expecting! Atherton is done playing around! And Harrod-Eagles (Blood Sinister, 2001, etc.) has provided a real poser for puzzle-hounds, though inexplicably tempering her wit with egregious puns.