A homicide that’s meant to look like a suicide, or is it the other way around?
When Detective Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe finds himself at odds with his Visigoth boss at Mid-Yorkshire CID, Chief Superintendent Andy Dalziel, as to whether Pal Maciver was slain by himself or by persons unknown, he’s not comfortable about it. If Fat Andy may be mellowing, as rumor has it, his hard-pressed second in command has seen precious little evidence of a kinder, gentler boss. In the meantime, young, handsome, rich, seriously disturbed Maciver is certainly dead of a gunshot wound to the head. But why, wonders Pascoe, is Dalziel, usually the very model of galloping skepticism, so quick to dismiss foul play? “SD plus SS equals PS,” he reminds Dalziel, quoting the latter’s own dictum: Suspicious Death plus Surviving Spouse equals Prime Suspect. And the Surviving Spouse here is a rancorous adulteress, quite as detestable as her late husband. But there’s another lady in the case—elegant, enigmatic Kate Kafka, hated stepmother of the deceased, and admired friend of Andy Dalziel. Has friendship blunted Dalziel’s sleuthing instincts? And just what kind of friendship is it? As Pascoe pursues an investigation Dalziel views with jaundiced eye, there’s a lot to make him nervous.
Pared down and brisker than last year’s behemoth Death’s Jest-book, this 21st pairing of crime fiction’s most entertaining odd couple is a dazzler—Hill’s best in years.