Murder halts a promising Gloucestershire community-theater production of Hamlet.
DS Bert Hook (Close Call, 2007, etc.) is surprised how much he enjoys his first few rehearsals with the Mettlesham Players—a local troupe he joins at the insistence of Justice of the Peace Maggie Dalrymple, who insists he’ll make the perfect Polonius. He admires Michael Carey, the lead whose talent has marked him for the Royal Academy, and is happy to see young shoplifter Becky Clegg and petty thief Jack Dawes trying Shakespeare as a means of reform. He even comes to respect the imposing Mrs. Dalrymple, who enjoys playing up to bank manager Ian Proudfoot’s Claudius. But the production folds when Terry Logan, its gifted director, is found with his throat slashed. Now Bert’s in a more familiar role. Together with Chief Superintendent John Lambert and DI Chris Rushton, he needs to interrogate his former castmates, all of whom have suffered injury at Logan’s hands. Lambert’s distracted by domestic turmoil—his daughter Jacky has moved back home after her marriage crashed—and Rushton is diverted by his burgeoning romance with Anne Jackson and his consequent hopes of domestic bliss. So it’s up to Hook to find the clue that brings down the curtain on a killer.
The tried-and-true Lambert and Hook formula—serially interrogate suspects, all of whom have a motive for murder—is livened by a peek into the detectives’ private lives.