A change of pace from the author's well-received debut, a spy story in the Greenele CarrÃ‰ mold (A Position of Trust, 1985). This second venture is a police procedural that brings Detective Superintendent Roper of Serious Crimes Division to the seaside village of Redbury, where town-drunk Saul Crossways has found the body of V.I.P. George Winterton beneath a cliff on the beach. Roper wastes no time interviewing guests at Winterton's nearby estate--guests who were there the previous night for a New Year's Eve party. Along with daughter-in-law Glenda and son Julian, visiting his father for the first time in 15 years, there were assorted locals present--pottery-works owner Jack Coverly; newspaper-owner Hugo Faulkner; Clive Vestry, headmaster of Redbury School; lawyer Gregory Tasker; vicar O'Halloran, and Winterton's attractive live-in housekeeper-secretary, Grace Fowler. Secrets past and present emerge from Roper's questioning--as well as some compelling motives for killing Winterton, a power-hungry sadist behind his respectable facade. Then the death of vagrant Crossways, after a bragging visit to the local pub, coalesces Roper's theory, and the uncovering of some crucial evidence brings a confession that proves him right. Short on tension, a bit long on sometimes repetitive detail, this is, still, a workmanlike, solid, mildly absorbing British traditional, first of a series that fans of the genre can anticipate.