PLAYING WITH FIRE by Patricia Hall


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Sex, drugs, and rock and roll threaten the peace on DS Harry Barnard’s Soho beat.

Life was simpler back in the days when East End thug Ray Robertson ran the Delilah Club. Ray and his younger brother, Georgie, were as bent as they come, but they kept order on the streets so that everyone could go out in the evening and have a good time. Now Georgie’s in stir, Ray’s missing, and the council is threatening to chuck Ma Robertson in an old age home so they can knock down her decrepit house and rehab the whole block. The Robertsons’ absence leaves the field open for dodgy fellows like Hugh Mercer to open new places like The Late Supper Club, places where musicians have their own private entrance so they can bring in whomever they like and whatever chemical enhancements they like and no one’s the wiser—places where an underage girl can fall out an upper-story window and no one can say how she fell or whom she came with or even what her name is. DS Barnard, despite his fondness for sharp clothes and flashy cars, hates this latest fashion in crime. So in spite of his superiors’ instance that he keep to the jobs he’s assigned—investigating the wave of violence against Soho’s cafe and bar owners, most likely at the hands of a Maltese mob looking to run a protection racket—Harry insists on nosing into the young partygoer’s death. His inquiry collides with the latest mission of his girlfriend, photographer Kate O’Donnell: helping her former beau, aspiring Liverpool musician Dave Donovan, locate his new girlfriend, singer Marie Collins, who’s disappeared on a quest to find a London agent.

The combination of murder, menace, and sexual jealousy provides Hall (Cover Up, 2017, etc.) a combustible mix, but the ensuing fireworks, both figurative and literal, provide her seventh entry more heat than light.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8826-6
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Severn House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2018


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