Seven neighbors celebrate the opening of their new homes on Gloucestershire’s quiet Gurney Close by throwing a block party. Next morning, one of them is dead.
The victim, garage owner Robin Durkin, was garroted with a cable. Anybody could have done the deed, say Supt. John Lambert and DS Bert Hook (Too Much of Water, 2005, etc.). Recent divorcee Lisa Holt tells Lambert, “It’s just an accident of life that we happen to live our separate lives on this little cul-de-sac.” But every one of Durkin’s neighbors seems to have shared a past with him. Ronald Lennox was his disapproving schoolmaster years ago; Carol Smart had been his lover; he’d inveigled Lisa’s ex-husband into selling drugs; and he was blackmailing at least two of his neighbors. In addition, there’s always the chance that he was killed by Phil Smart, an inveterate philanderer; Jason Ritchie, the gardener with a history of violence; or Anthony Watson, the contract killer who just happened to be passing through. You might just as well pick the murderer out from the red herrings by closing your eyes and pointing at random, and judging from the paucity of evidence, that’s pretty much what Lambert and Hook do.
As usual, Gregson’s coppers squeeze and squeeze the suspects until they’ve gotten every last one of their not-very-interesting secrets. Not Lambert and Hook’s finest hour.