One-eyed murderers, international child sex slavery rings and people in power covering up crimes—it’s another go-round in the trenches for Chief Inspector Bill Harrigan of the London Metropolitan Police in this third and latest entry in Harrison’s (Destroy the Paper Tiger, 2011, etc.) series of police procedurals.
Harrigan’s latest adventure begins in late 1989, as he and his romantic partner, Margaret, are stopped at the Sydney airport as they prepare to return to London; his assistance has been requested in the investigation and apprehension of Reginald Baines, an unstable hit man Harrigan captured years before. According to the Australian Federal Police, Baines was transferred to the UK as part of a prisoner exchange, where he promptly escaped, killing several people in the process. As Harrigan and his expanding team of trusted associates investigates Baines’ escape and subsequent crimes, however, the plot thickens exponentially, growing to encompass the machinations of the ruthless Esposito crime family and an infant murder case that may not be as settled as those in power would like. Despite the increasing intricacy of the plot, the narrative unwinds with confidence, clearly stating the events and the characters involved. Many of the secondary characters are barely sketches, but the central actors—particularly Harrigan, Margaret and Inspector Throgmorton, Harrigan’s latest stalwart ally in the Met—are drawn with sufficient depth and color to come alive. In the early chapters, the exposition of minor background details, such as car makes and models and furniture, slow the narrative, as does a saturation of commas and apostrophes. But the story finds its rhythm by the novel’s midpoint, and adept plotting keeps things moving to a well-earned denouement.
Despite a choppy first half, the narrative settles down into a clearly plotted adventure that maintains a swift pace through to the end.