The return of a Brighton girl who made it big spells nothing but trouble for Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and his colleagues in the Sussex Police (Dead Man’s Grip, 2011, etc.).
Now that she’s returned to her birthplace to star as George IV’s mistress in The King’s Lover, everyone, it seems, wants a piece of rocker-turned-thespian Gaia Lafayette. An anonymous sender of emails who thinks the role should have gone to a more established actress has already shot Gaia’s assistant to death in LA. Failed playwright Drayton Wheeler, convinced that producer Larry Brooker stole the film’s idea from him, is plotting revenge. So is Anna Galicia, the fan who’s spent £275,000 on Gaia memorabilia only to be spurned when she tried to talk herself into a face-to-face with her idol. Kevin Spinella, chief crime reporter for the Brighton Argus, demands details on the latest threats to Gaia even though he’s on his honeymoon in the Maldives. Clearly, protecting a superstar who doesn’t want to surrender her freedom of movement in a nation where practically no one, including the police, carries firearms will be a tall order for the Sussex Police. Roy Grace, who’s in charge of the detail, has troubles of his own. An unidentifiable torso has turned up on Keith Winter’s chicken farm, and vicious gangster Amis Smallbone, whom Grace put away 12 years ago, has been released from prison bent on vengeance. And that doesn’t even exhaust the list of miscreants, who are so thick on the ground that there’s even a darkly humorous scene in which two of Gaia’s stalkers, unknown to each other, briefly meet
James keeps the whole caravan lumbering efficiently along, though he never quite dispels the suspicion that not even a rock star could possibly have so many enemies independently determined to do her harm.