DCI Harry Brock (Deadlock, 2018, etc.) investigates the death of a con man.
Much as he hates being torn from the arms of his latest lover, luscious, well-heeled Lydia Maxwell, Brock finds a certain perverse pleasure in his latest case. He and his bagman, DS Dave Poole, are sent to investigate a murder at a naturist center. The Pretext Club, a punning take on the term “pre-textile,” used by naturists to describe the state in which each human is born, caters to adults who prefer to relax and swim in the altogether. But Robert Sharp, whose naked, charred body was found in his chalet at the club after he was shot and set ablaze, seemed to have used naturism as a means of finding a more intimate—and lucrative—form of relaxation. After his demise, the police are besieged by a parade of women who had more than enough reason to set Sharp ablaze. Their stories are depressingly similar: They all met Sharp at one naturist club or another where he charmed them into bed, promised them marriage, borrowed tidy sums of money from them, and promptly disappeared, leaving most of them not only bereft, but pregnant. Brock, who likes his women wealthy but not gullible, is nevertheless keen to arrest Sharp's killer. He does need some help, not only from Poole, but from Aussie DI Kate Ebdon, whom he relies on to point out some of the finer points, like the fact that one of the women they interview is eight months pregnant. Patient police work solves the case, although readers may still wonder why, in the land of National Health, no one seems to use contraception.
An eminently typical Ison procedural, although it may make readers queasy about public swimming pools.