A book editor’s esoteric knowledge helps solve a crime.
When Samantha "Sam" Clair meets her friend and former lover Aidan Merriam for lunch in London, she finds him in deep despair over the suicide of Frank Compton, his partner in the Merriam-Compton art gallery. Aidan can think of no reason for Frank’s sudden suicide. The CID, which is investigating the death, is looking into the gallery’s financial status. Sam’s boyfriend, Jake Field, who’s in charge of the case, has doubts about the suicide, especially since Frank met his death via a Soviet-era handgun, rare in a country where such weapons are extremely hard to come by. Sam is drawn into the investigation while she's doing research for an Arts Council project on subsidies and meets Celia Stein, daughter of the late pop artist Stevenson, who hadn’t been seen since 1993 until his skeleton was recently discovered. The Tate is about to do a Stevenson show, and Frank’s niece Lucy, who works at Merriam-Compton, is planning her own exhibition of the Stevenson works the gallery owns. Someone who apparently thinks Sam knows something dangerous pushes her off her bike in a hit-and-run that may not have been an accident. Stevenson’s death was also ruled a suicide, and the apparently accidental death of a restorer for the gallery is too much of a coincidence for Jake, though he really shouldn’t be investigating a case that involves his girlfriend. The more Sam learns about Stevenson and the gallery from her own circle of acquaintances and her mother, a lawyer who represents Merriam, the more she’s moved to figure out why she might be a threat to a killer.
Sam’s second appearance (A Murder of Magpies, 2015, etc.) is a joy to read, filled with diverting characters, a socially clumsy but clever heroine, and a mystery filled with dubious characters.