Bad-tempered Jim Bolen, partial to the voluptuous girls supplied by obliging Tudor Hotel manager Norman Quint, may have been dispatched by an unusually scrawny one last seen sneaking out the hotel’s back door barefoot. But in fact the badly bloodied young Vikki Lane has been set up to take the fall, and while she seeks safety with Good Samaritan Joanna Freeborn and her friend Bunny, the real murderer is stalking (and murdering) her prostitute roommate Simone Giraud and zeroing in on Vikki, the last possible eyewitness to his deed. Meantime, Shropshire Detective Chief Inspector Paget and his sidekick Sgt. Tregalles discover that Bolen’s brother Harry, his real-estate partner in Bolen Brothers, along with the widowed Laura Bolen and their browbeaten accountant son John, all might have been thrown into bankruptcy had Bolen proceeded with his latest ambitious acquisition deal. In addition, Keith Lambert, the rival bidder, was not only his wife’s former fiancé but a member of the family branch responsible for the work-related accident of Bolen’s father. Poor Bunny, mistaken for Vikki, is almost strangled, and when both Vikki and her attacker come to visit her in the hospital, it’s mere luck that Paget and Tregalles are on hand to stop more mayhem.
Pleasantly crammed with red herrings, (an Internet porn-merchant couple, a business underling passing prospective bids on to the competition, a two-timing beau, etc.). Devotees of the cozy British procedural will savor all the clues, the timetable, and especially Paget’s ever more interesting love life.