Darrell (We Will Remember, 1996, etc.) swaps her usual historical fiction for a tedious military mystery spiced with bad sex scenes.
Max Rydal—“alone, haunted by black doubts”—is a British military policeman recently sent to a base in Germany to solve the brutal murder of Major Leo Bekov, whose corpse Judith King discovered early one morning, tied to a post. But murder takes a backseat to sexual and marital drama. King (think Hot Lips Houlihan with a British accent) had drunkenly made wild love with Bekov on a trampoline hours before he was killed. Though she doesn’t realize it, after Bekov slunk off another soldier, also drunk, slipped in and raped her. Rydal’s deputy, Tom Black, is married to the sweetly devoted Nora, with whom he has “pleasurable, satisfying, and warmly loving,” if irrelevant, sex. Even marriages long ended are anything but dormant. Bekov left his beautiful, apricot-lipped wife seven years before, but jilted Caroline is still in love with him. Rydal’s wife Susan was killed in a car crash while riding with her lover. Bekov’s murder must be sex-related, the detectives conclude; he was probably offed by a jealous husband. But if it’s a simple crime of passion, pressing questions remain: Why did military wife Jane Foyle provide an alibi for a soldier she hardly knew? And why did Jeremy Fielding kill himself just a few days after Bekov’s murder?
Whodunit? Who cares?