A recently integrated tennis club is the scene of a murder.
DS Clyde Northcott knew that giving in to Olive Crawshaw’s increasingly importunate invitations to join the Birch Fields Tennis Club would come back to bite him in the end. The formidable Olive may have taken the club’s goal of growing its numbers to heart, but dyed-in-the-wool racists like Arthur Swarbrick think that offering memberships to Asians, like suave Pakistani Younis Hafeez, is going far enough. There’s no need to include Afro-Caribbeans like the towering Northcott, whom even his mentor, DCI Percy Peach (A Necessary End, 2015, etc.) calls “a hard bastard.” But pretty PC Elaine Brockman’s offer to help Northcott get his volley back into shape is too much to resist, and next thing he knows, he’s squiring Elaine to the club’s summer ball. Unfortunately, the ball ends with the discovery of the body of Jason Fitton, owner of Fitton Metals, in his parked car. Now Northcott is in the awkward position of helping Peach interrogate his fellow club members to see who might have had something against Fitton—which turns out to be just about everyone. Not only do Olive and Arthur hate him, but Hafeez stands poised to take over his criminal enterprises, while Robert Walmsley, managing director of Fitton Metals, and Walmsley’s personal assistant, Anne Grice, loathe Jason for starving the company of capital.
The competition to see who hated Fitton most overshadows any rivalry on Birch Fields’ courts, and it’s a sure bet that the final outcome of Gregson’s solid procedural won’t be 1-love.