Friendships go seriously awry.
When DS Melody Talbot spends the night with guitarist Andy Monahan, a witness and possibly even a suspect in a murder case, she can’t decide which is worse: having to confess her indiscretion to her boss, Acting DCI Gemma James, or to her good mate Doug Cullen, a copper laid up with a bad leg. Andy had argued with barrister Vincent Arnott, the victim, between sets at a pub in the Crystal Palace area. Could the musician have followed Arnott to the sleazy Belvedere Hotel, plied him with drugs, stripped him naked, trussed him up, then strangled him with a scarf that left threads embedded in his neck? With an assist from her husband, Duncan Kincaid, now on leave from his Scotland Yard purview to take care of little orphan Charlotte, whom they hope to adopt, Gemma interviews Andy’s manager, a record producer hoping to pair Andy with new sensation Poppy, band members and kin. When another barrister, Shaun Francis, is murdered in identical fashion, the only link between the two dead men seems to be Andy. It is not until Duncan listens to a tale of a 13-year-old’s betrayal that tawdry gossip and legal shenanigans come to light, implicating a widowed French teacher and a much-bullied boy nursing grievances that cry out for revenge.
Another solid outing for the reliable Crombie (No Mark Upon Her, 2012, etc.), who turns a judicious eye on secrets that can overwhelm what they’re meant to protect despite the best intentions.