Mark Dangerfield, antique-book dealer and sometime detective in Maggie Thatcher’s London, is asked by socialite Wendy Cadbury, a friend of his mother’s, to investigate the drowning death of her young friend Alison Alyward, officially a suicide. Leaving his shop in the capable hands of his girlfriend, Mandy Richardson, Mark begins with Alison’s closest friends—her seductive flatmate Talia Morgan, impecunious Jason Bestwick, and rich, idle Revel Blake. Finding a diary and address book in Alison’s room, Mark takes it with him over Talia’s violent objections. A visit to Mrs. Everton, the aunt who raised Alison, reveals that Alison’s mother was Wendy Cadbury, a fact never made public. His meeting with Blake is sabotaged when Mark finds his own flat torn to pieces at the appointed time, the diary and address book missing. Certain that Blake was responsible, Mark rushes to his place only to find him dead, apparently of a drug overdose, with no sign of the address book and diary. But Mark’s providential copies of the names in the address book soon send him to a Mr. Moto and a nightclub called Mangoes, just the first stop on his exploration into London’s hidden world of drugs, prostitution, poverty, and degradation. With Mandy’s life and his own at stake, he makes his stubborn way to the shocking force behind it all and, finally, the answers to his quest.
Veteran Lyons (Green Years, 1989, etc.) turns in a performance as low-key, neatly written, and steadily entertaining as ever.