Inspector Joseph Rafferty’s Ma told him it was all his fault; he should have gone into the building trades like his Da. If he had, not only could he have bypassed the grisly murder of Clive Barstaple, a consultant sent by Alistair Plumley, owner of Watts and Cutley, to “rationalize” Aimhurst and Son, their newest corporate acquisition; but he wouldn’t have to figure out how to prevent his partner, righteous Welshman Dafyd Llewellyn, from wearing the back-of-a-truck bargain suit Ma Rafferty sold him for his wedding to Rafferty’s cousin Maureen. One look at that suit, and Superintendent Bradley—no fan of Rafferty’s to begin with—will likely shop Rafferty, and Llewellyn, and Ma for receiving. Still, a brief stretch in stir might be a welcome respite from the hearing the carnage Barstaple produced at Aimhurst, where he terrorized longtime employees like Bob Harris and Marian Steadman with the threat of redundancy, sexually harassed single-mom receptionist Linda Luscombe, encouraged weak-willed Amy Glossup to spy on her co-workers, and taunted developmentally delayed Eric Penn by calling him a moron. Interviewing smarmy Ross Arnold, owner of the fly-by-night service that sent Penn, along with Ada Collins, Dot Flowers, and illegal alien Mrs. Chakraburty to clean Aimhurst’s offices, further imperils Rafferty’s digestion. Still, as Llewellyn sternly reminds him, no one is exempt from the law, so Rafferty strives gamely to discover who put andromedotoxin in Barstaple’s strawberry yogurt as the dodgy-suit day of reckoning draws nearer.
Their fifth outing takes Rafferty and Llewellyn (Dead Before Morning, 1994, etc.) over familiar yet satisfying ground.