When a pesky London newspaper threatens to expose major corruption at the highest levels of the London force, the call goes out to the Hard Detective from the Midlands to investigate.
Why pull DCI Harriet Martens (A Detective in Love, 2002, etc.) away from the Greater Birchester Police to root through the Maximum Crime Squad’s dirty laundry? She’s convinced it’s because C.A.G.D. Anstruther, the grand old Inspector of Constabulary charged with clearing up the case, thinks that her brand of old-fashioned rectitude makes her a kindred spirit, “a female gentleman.” But the description that accompanies her to London—“the dozy northern tart”—is more indicative of her prospects. Neither the Maximum Squad’s chief, Commander Charles Boxall, nor any of his suspect subordinates bothers to hide the contempt and hostility they feel for the comparatively low-ranking provincial sent to check out the Sunday Herald’s rumors. Slimy Herald reporter Frank Parkins is equally uncooperative in providing details that might substantiate his innuendo, and his boss, sleek Althea Raven, is positively threatening. So all Harriet can do is what Keating’s detectives do best—ask everybody all the obvious questions, and then ask again and again until silences yield to mutual recriminations and finally to the truth.
Readers will certainly feel for dogged Harriet, though the punchline, as so often in Keating’s civilized entertainments, might better have suited a short story.