The construction of a new seaside amusement pier brings out every activist in Hunstanton Beach—along with every officer in the West Norfolk Constabulary.
It’s perfectly obvious who’s been distributing poisoned chocolates to what seem like random travelers on city buses. Former volunteer nurse Esther Keeble, 72, has been caught red-handed and clapped into a cell. But she stubbornly refuses to tell DI Peter Shaw or DS George Valentine (Death on Demand, 2015, etc.) why she was indulging in scattershot homicide or how she chose her targets. On the other hand, Valentine and Shaw can find no shortage of suspects for an escalating series of crimes surrounding the construction of a controversial new pier: graffiti, arson, anonymous threats, a bomb buried beneath the sand, and the murder of Dutch electrician Dirk Hartog, a recreational diver who never resurfaced from his last dive. Nor is there any mystery about motive: someone clearly disapproves of the project and wants to kill it off. But where to find the malefactor among all the environmentalists and demonstrators like Tom Coram and Anna Roos of Stop the Pier, each of them convinced that the promised development will be a blot on the face of the Norfolk coast, employees like Tad Atkins, manager of the Waterworld pool, whose livelihood is threatened by competition from new concessions, and conspirators desperate to cover up the particulars of an abortive salvage operation two generations ago?
Kelly’s regular cast of coppers, so thick on the ground that they outnumber the suspects, are overshadowed this time, with the emphasis on the shadows cast by some memorably sad souls only halfway motivated to survive their past sins.