DCI Bill Slider has to fight his boss and, even more doggedly, his boss’s boss to close his 19th case.
Cmdr. David Carpenter, who invites everyone under his control to call him Dave and rewards those who do with baleful glares, is absolutely clear about how he wants Slider and his mates of the Shepherd’s Bush Police to handle the death of celebrity literary agent Edward Wiseman, who apparently fell from his office window to land in a wheelbarrow full of bricks left below by a construction crew. The investigation shouldn’t take longer than a day at most; it should confirm in no uncertain terms that Wiseman’s death was accidental; and under no circumstances is anyone to question Calliope Hunt, whoever she is. Slider, perennially at odds with Detective Superintendent Porson over his often free-wheeling conduct (Shadow Play, 2018, etc.), certainly doesn’t want to make waves with this case. But one or two out-of-place details in Wiseman’s office lead him to order a post-mortem, which promptly reveals that the agent had been beaten to death a good hour before he took a header from his window. Since Wiseman, a natural-born agent who was also a natural-born lover, seems to have taken virtually every one of his female clients to bed, and since Simon Haig, the second husband of Regina Cantor, Wiseman’s ex-partner and ex-wife, is known to have taken a swing at him some time back, there’s no dearth of suspects, and by the time Slider learns that Calliope Hunt is a model, a TV presenter, and an incompetent novelist whom Wiseman had agreed to represent for, um, reasons of his own, she has to take her place in a long, long queue.
An accomplished, unspectacular procedural from a veteran who juggles the new case and the ongoing developments in the lives of her regular cast with aplomb. The only flaw is that the most interesting and appealing character is the victim.