DI Bill Slider asks why the thief who killed West London television personality Rowland Egerton in his home ignored his wallet and most of his treasures and made off with exactly two items.
Egerton, it turns out, didn’t know nearly as much about antiques as you’d think from watching Going, Going, Gone and Antiques Galore! His gift for charming people enough to sell them anything made him a perfect complement to John Lavender, his wooden, knowledgeable partner in the Fulham Road shop whose operations Egerton’s success on the telly largely subsidized. Now the partnership has been severed by a letter opener snatched from Egerton’s table. His alert cleaner, Molly Bean, notices two absences from his extensive collection of antiquities: a Fabergé malachite box and a Berthe Morisot painting. Neither of the missing pieces is valueless, of course, but Egerton’s killer passed up many more valuable items to take them. Was it Dale Sholto, the daughter Egerton abandoned on his way to the top? Rupert Melling, the equally charming antiquities expert he quarreled with publicly? Felicity Marsh, the television presenter whom rumor linked him to romantically? Philip Masterson, the former Minister for the Arts, whose wife, Antiques Galore! expert Julia “Bunny” Rabbet, died of a brain hemorrhage a month ago? Or was it one of the blackmail victims Egerton, nee Phil Harris, delighted in collecting from and tormenting?
Though the answers aren’t nearly as interesting as the questions themselves, Harrod-Eagles (Hard Going, 2014, etc.) is never less than expert in presenting suspects, combing through the evidence, varying the tone and showing new ways that Egerton was even more of a bounder than you suspected.