Murder, blackmail and corporate greed give a newly promoted Scotland Yard chief inspector a run for his money in his first case in this investigative thriller where inaction is sometimes the best action.
Simon Craig had a good thing going as a marketing chief for an English steel manufacturer, but he wanted more. A “womanizing rogue,” Craig was a member of a shadowy cabal known as “the club,” a group of executives that illegally set steel prices among European Union steelmakers. He blackmails his former associates and, as insurance, entrusts a package of damning evidence with ex-flame and solicitor Susan Robson. To cover their tracks, the club torches Robson’s office and kills off Craig in the prologue. Craig, a serviceable McGuffin, is presented several times through flashbacks that show his flawed, preening personality but do little to further the plot; he’s best left dead and buried. Long-suffering widow Rachel lets Scotland Yard know Craig’s employers were sniffing around for paperwork—just the clue Randall needs to begin piecing the conspiracy together. Craig’s evidence survives, and Robson, along with another of his lovers, secretly plans to use it to punish the corporate criminals. As time runs out for Randall’s investigation, Craig’s death becomes moot as all involved sense there are bigger fish to fry; unfortunately, few of them make it to the pan. In a picturesque and well-described Europe, what ensues is a mad dash as club minions maneuver to keep their money and their employers safe and out of jail while Robson marshals her team amid mounting deaths. The prose is all business with few flashes of insight or wit, but it moves the story and characters along with economy and hardly any wasted words. Before a relatively lackluster denouement, the inventive plot and characters will keep readers focused and guessing at what intrigues are to come.
Pell writes with a sure, confident hand, the flame of the first page making it almost till the end.