Protecting even those who may not deserve it, Rafferty and Llewellyn (A Thrust to the Vitals, 2007, etc.) try to find out who’s been mugging the collection agents of Elmhurst’s most prominent loan sharks.
Everyone in Primrose Avenue seems to owe money. The Joneses and their boarder, Peter Allbright, have trouble making ends meet on Jobseekers’ Allowance after the layoffs at the nearby factory. Josie McBride wants a little extra for her wedding. Jim Jenkins is helping pay his granddaughter’s college tuition. Les Sterling likes to play the ponies. And with five children courtesy of five different fathers, Tracey Stubbs can always use a bit of cash. So DI Joe Rafferty has plenty of suspects in the murder of debt collector John “Jaws” Harrison, bashed over the head while making weekly rounds on behalf of Malcolm Forbes. Of course Forbes isn’t the only game in town. Rafferty’s cousin Nigel Blythe, who recently launched his own loan company, was on Primrose Avenue the very day of Jaws’s unfortunate demise, collecting in person because his agent had been the latest victim in a series of attacks on debt collectors. And of course solving the case isn’t Rafferty’s only worry, with fiancée Abra’s plans for the wedding of the century guaranteeing to put him in the poorhouse.
The only real mystery in this tepid procedural is whether Rafferty himself will end up in hock to Malcolm Forbes.