Unable to tie his shoelaces without the help of his hated subordinate, DCI Percy Peach, Chief Inspector Thomas Tucker Bulstrode (Murder at the Lodge, 2003, etc.) entices him back from the Traffic division to the CID.
The case in question is sordid and commonplace. Leaving the last client of her first week walking the streets of Brunton, Sarah Dunne, 17, has been strangled. The motive clearly wasn’t robbery, since the killer left her with the client’s £25. Instead, Peach and his mates, including his sergeant and bedmate Lucy Blake, are looking for someone with a rage against prostitutes, perhaps the very same anonymous caller who boasts about having killed two tarts already. Unfortunately, Brunton seems to be full of such men, from brutal pimp Joe Johnson to Jekyll/Hyde preacher Father John Devoy, from computer salesman David Strachan, who likes his bit of rough, to DI Tom Boyd, visiting from Blackpool to enjoy a spot of sex-cum-bondage. Gregson is every bit as good at getting under the skin of his sweating, generally pitiable suspects as Peach is at getting under Bulstrode’s skin with his well-oiled obsequious sarcasm, rather less in evidence here now that there’s more conflict between the coppers and the suspects.
The only fllies in the ointment are the routine detection itself—brilliant Peach has little chance to shine—and the climactic fingering of a perp who might just as easily have been one of the red herrings.