Detective Inspector Christy Kennedy, handsome stalwart of the Camden Town CID, has two love lives to untangle: his own on-again/off-again relationship with journalist ann rea (so trendy she disdains capital letters); and the ins and romantic outs of pop singer/songwriter Esther Bluewood, who was busy having an affair with a fan and getting ready to divorce her husband just before she—or someone unkindly—stuck her head into the oven on a jaunty yellow towel and she succumbed to the gas. After reading her journals, Dr. Watson, her psychiatrist, insists she was not a likely suicide candidate. Where to look instead for her killer? Judy Dillon, the pathetically obese nanny to Esther’s children Jens and Holmer, implicates Paul Yeats, Judy’s soon-to-be ex, who was scheming to have his sister hired on as Esther’s business manager. And Josef Jones, the fan who scored, runs, hides, then appears at the station house to volunteer an alibi for a second murder. Uninterested in motives, Kennedy concentrates on the gas meter and produces an ending that—while not quite in the same league as John Dickson Carr’s locked-room puzzles—is still complicated enough to make most readers page through it more than once.
There’s a good bit on the current music scene here, but it’s mostly a digressive, ingratiating investigation by one of England’s milder-mannered inspectors (The Ballad of Sean and Wilko, 2000, etc.).