Death threats to a literary festival’s planning committee seem more potent when one of the board’s members is shot to death in his study.
Everything seems to be rolling along for the Oldford Literary Festival committee. Under the determined leadership of former civil servant Marjorie Dooks, a fine slate of speakers has been assembled. Christine Lambert is on the verge of persuading her Chief Supt. husband John to appear alongside crime writer David Knight, who’s been recruited by Oldford’s own crime writer, Sue Charles. Of course, Knight’s appearance itself raises the hackles of freelance BBC producer Peter Preston, who feels that the honor of appearing at the festival should be reserved for “real” writers like his old friend Denzil Carter. Preston also snipes at the committee’s youngest members, poet Sam Hilton and painter Ros Barker, for what he regards as their naïve and uninformed view of the contemporary arts. But fractious as the committee can be, the formidable Mrs. Dooks keeps them moving forward, at least until a series of threatening messages begin to arrive at the various members’ doors. Even more unsettling is the discovery of Preston’s body, shot twice through the heart—an event that enlists John Lambert, along with his Sgt. Bert Hook (In Vino Veritas, 2010, etc.), to appear not just on the podium but at the scene of the crime.
Like Marjorie’s committee, Gregson’s 14th Lambert and Hook adventure plows forward steadily, providing enjoyment for fans of the grill-’em-till-you-got-’em British procedural.