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by Sally Spencer

Pub Date: July 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7278-5543-3
Publisher: Severn House

As its title suggests, this deeply conventional whodunit reaches back, back, back to the very dawn of rock ’n’ roll: Liverpool, circa 1960, when glorified garage bands played lunchtime gigs that set throngs of shop clerks and typists screaming and swooning in makeshift clubs across the city. One of these clubs, The Cellar—a cobbled-together string of tunnels and caves owned by bottle-blond Alice Pollard, policed by thuggish Rick Johnson, and DJ’ed by hyperactive Ron Clarke—is temporary home to the Seagulls, a local foursome that may be just far enough above the rest to land charismatic Steve Walker, good-natured Billy Simmons, anxious Pete Foster, and shy, sweet Eddie Barnes a big-money recording contract. But their path to fame hits a detour when lead guitarist Barnes is electrocuted onstage while adjusting his amp. So Scotland Yard sends Chief Inspector Charles Woodend (Murder at Swann’s Lake, 1999, etc.), their all-purpose consultant to baffled bobbies throughout England, to assist the local police. Woodend sees that Inspector Brian Hopgood of Liverpool has his own plan: Let the visitor do the legwork for him while he solves the case from the comfort of his own office. But Cloggin’-It Charlie, accompanied by his long-suffering assistant, Inspector Bob Rutter, proves that walking the scene of the crime—with a stop at a decent pub or two, of course, for a pint and a Capstan’s Full Strength—might be the best way to solve it.

Pedestrian but solid and reliable as Woodend himself.