Personal dysfunction complicates the investigation of a local crime family.
The impending retirement of his superior Brock and a visit home to his frail mother lead fortysomething DCI Frederick Troy to contemplate his future. A Soviet native who emigrated to England as a child and worked in WWII as a spy, Troy still winces when he recalls getting shot by his titled mistress in 1944, and his rocky relationship with his controlling, promiscuous twin sisters Sasha and Masha. When a bomb in Brock’s car kills him and sends Troy to the hospital, Foxx, his much younger girlfriend, urges him to quit Scotland Yard, then leaves him after he refuses. But he doesn’t want long for female companionship. His old flame Kitty reenters his life; when Masha tearfully confesses that her husband is sleeping with Anna, another of Troy’s exes, he allows his sister to seduce him; and he takes up again briefly with Anna. Confronting an American detective who’s shadowing him, Troy learns that Rork’s been hired to follow the wife of American presidential hopeful Cal Cormack—who happens to be Kitty—and keep tabs on her affair with crooner Vince Christy, a favorite of Danny Ryan, who controls a growing share of London’s protection racket. Rork’s violent death leads Troy to the dangerous Ryans.
The overstuffed plot is anchored by Troy’s fundamental decency—bruised and jaded, he’s still an improbable romantic—and by smart, brittle prose from Lawton (Bluffing Mr. Churchill, 2004, etc.).