An assignment from Scotland Yard pits a clever private investigator against both ruthless killers and an establishment hoping to sweep murder under the rug.
Cmdr. Woodhead of Scotland Yard asks Kate Shackleton to take on an unusual homicide thought to have been perpetrated on her home turf of Yorkshire. A body has been found at London’s King’s Cross Station after arriving on the so-called Rhubarb Special, which runs during the peak rhubarb-forcing season. Kate receives a colored sketch of the unidentified man, clad in his underwear, found in a potato sack, and shot in the stomach. Woodhead hints that the killing may have something to do with the 1926 general strike. Although that was three years ago, the murder may well represent a Bolshevik attempt to foment revolution. He also tells her that powerful northern industrialists and the press must be kept out of the loop. Kate can only hope that DC Yeats, her liaison with the Yard, will be more forthcoming. Yeats does give her a list of important people who shouldn't be bothered that had been removed from her original briefing and mentions that two potatoes and two gold coins were found in the sack. Giving her assistant, Mr. Sykes, and her housekeeper, Mrs. Sugden (A Snapshot of Murder, 2019, etc.), specific assignments, Kate wangles an invitation to stay with her old friend Gertrude Brockman and her husband, Benjie, a Lord Lieutenant involved in manufacturing and mining. Because some unusual calluses on the corpse’s hands make Kate suspect that he may have been a golfer, she sends Sykes to question people at area courses, all the while wondering what rhubarb, gold, Bolsheviks, golf, and a demolished children’s home can possibly have in common.
A picture-perfect portrayal of England caught in the burgeoning class struggle between the wars.