A missing neighbor, a series of fires, and turmoil at work are just the start of Samantha Clair’s problems.
A hangover has put Sam, a Canadian-born book publisher living in North London, in a foul mood. But she can’t say no to her elderly friend Viv when she asks for help in learning whether her friend Dennis, who lives upstairs from her in a council flat, is missing or perhaps lying dead on his floor, since no one's seen him in days. A search of the flat reveals no body and no reason for Dennis to be missing, and the police are not much interested. So Sam goes into sleuthing mode over the objections of her CID boyfriend, Jake. The next disaster to strike the neighborhood is a fire that destroys a house that sheltered several squatters who've all lived there for years: Mo and Dan and their son; electrician Mike; and gardener Steve. Jake, who isn’t up on the local gossip, is not pleased to hear about the squatters and even less pleased when Sam decides to let Steve use her front yard to grow veggies. When Dennis is found dead at the fire scene, Sam learns that although he worked for the local council, he also ran an after-school teen club. Because a large amount of cash was found in his flat, the working theory is that he was a drug dealer using neighborhood teens to help deliver his wares. At Sam’s publishing house, a team of management consultants who lack even basic knowledge of the business is driving everyone crazy, and at home, Sam and Jake continue to bicker over the squatters. Although Sam thinks she’s discovered little that will help solve the neighborhood’s problems, a series of scary incidents forces her to consider what she really does know.
The highlights of the third in this marvelous and often amusing series (A Bed of Scorpions, 2016, etc.) are neighborhood characters who are a basket of enjoyables and a complex and brainy heroine.