The murder of the minister of the Department of Old Age Pensions on Clapham Common disrupts the innocently romantic double life of DOAP Assistant Secretary for Finance. Severe, efficient spinster Willow King, who leaves the office every Thursday supposedly to take care of her ailing aunt, has actually been escaping to a luxurious Belgravia flat, where she writes best-selling romances under a pseudonym and revels in the atmosphere created by the Turner watercolor, the Chanel No. 19 bath oil, the ""exceedingly comfortable armchair,"" and the tasteful embraces of investment banker Richard Lawrence-Crescent. When her boss and unsuccessful suitor at DOAP, Algernon Endelsham, is beaten to death, Willow turns sleuth to consider the suspects--Michael Englewood, whose wife Algy had seduced and abandoned, and gossipy junior staffers Roger and Barbara; Algy's rumored current romantic interest Amanda Gripper and her bullying husband Eustace; ingÃ‰nue Emma Gnatche; her braying brother Anthony; and Algy's mysteriously disinherited brother. Everybody describes Algy as a sadistic manipulator, but nobody can explain what he was doing in the middle of Clapham Common after dark away from his surly chauffeur Albert--until Willow, after endless cups of good strong tea, makes a connection that adds crime-solving to her formidable list of credits. Cooper, reportedly a best-selling author under another name, offers a mystery-tinged romance of objects, as well upholstered as Cressida's wonderful chair.