In war-torn England, fledgling PI Johnny Hawke has his hands full with a runaway youth and a cross-dresser’s baffling murder.
It’s 1942. Swaggering soldier Harryboy Jenkins turns a night away from the base into an AWOL felony when he murders the vicar who gives him a ride and then drives the man’s car into London for a spree. Meanwhile, rookie detective Johnny Hawke is hired by angry wife Sandra Riley to catch her two-timing husband Walter in the act. Johnny finds Walter in full drag and makeup, with no secret girlfriend. Feeling sorry for him, he listens to his tale of woe over drinks. When they hit the street, Walter is accosted by a purse snatcher who shoots him dead when he resists. Not far away, young Peter Blake is having a hard time with his new adoptive family. Arthur Booth is a rough disciplinarian, and neighborhood boys tease fragile Peter mercilessly. As he’s done before (Forests of the Night, 2007, etc.), Peter runs away to Johnny’s flat. When Sandra Riley learns of her husband’s murder, the tough facade melts and she tearfully hires Hawke to find the killer. Harryboy takes up with a thrill-seeking young beauty named Rachel who seems only slightly fazed when he shoots a policeman dead. Just as Hawke gets a bead on Harryboy as Walter’s killer, Peter runs away. Hawke’s sleek, intermittent first-person narrative nicely counterpoints the rest of the story, presented by an omniscient voice.
Subtly involving despite an undistinguished plot.