Ison (Whiplash, 2004, etc.) unleashes the considerable skills of irascible Divisional Detective Inspector Ernest Hardcastle to solve the case of a murdered prostitute.
Hardcastle is celebrating Armistice Day 1918 with his staff when a London landlady turns up to report a missing lodger. There’s little interest in her report until the strangled corpse turns up under Palace Pier in Brighton. When the Brighton police prove inept, Hardcastle gets the case. Mrs. Fanny Horwood, he learns, was a pregnant prostitute who may have distributed motives for murder as generously as her favors. Could her killer be the pier photographer with a sideline in pornographic pictures? The pimp who turns out to be working with the photographer? Or the shell-shocked Major who lived in the same boardinghouse as Fanny and whose background check yields such interesting revelations? Even Alderman Richard Stevenson’s story of being blackmailed conceals a lot more than it discloses to the police. Hardcastle doggedly works his way through the intertwined lives and lies of all the possible suspects until he uncovers the not-so-simple truth.
A neat job of police work and people so interesting you’ll want to race through Hardcastle’s second case (the first being Hardcastle’s Spy, 2004) without even a break for teatime.