Life in ’60s London continues to challenge a young photographer from Liverpool.
Nothing the police did in handling the murder of her gay brother’s flatmate (Dead Beat, 2011) did much to inspire Kate O’Donnell’s confidence. So she’s reluctant to call them when she sees two thugs with a dog harassing the middle-aged couple downstairs. She knows that the landlord wants to clear the Argyll Gardens building so that he can chop up the three flats into tiny apartments to rent to Notting Hill’s growing West Indian community. When a West Indian neighbor is arrested on scant evidence in the killing of a young prostitute, however, Kate has no choice but to call DS Harry Barnard of the Soho vice squad. Barnard’s soft spot for Kate has been clear ever since he ran interference for her in her brother’s case. Despite some misgivings about her involvement with Nelson Mackintosh, who’s already annoyed the local bobbies by speaking up for West Indian rights, he puts her in touch with Eddie Lamb, his counterpart in the Notting Hill CID. DS Lamb insists that Mackintosh is their man. But a death in Kate’s building makes him think twice, especially when she hears that shady real estate developer Lazlo Roman is interested in the Argyll Gardens property. And when more shady characters threaten Kate for taking pictures around Portobello Road, it looks as if Harry’s worries may be all too justified.
Hall’s second begins where her first leaves off, mixing straight-up procedural with a dose of local color.