A convivial group of misogynists check into the Hopwicke Country House Hotel. One checks out early.
Sometime around 3 a.m., Nigel Ackford, after drinking way too much as a guest at the Pillars of Sussex men-only dinner, retires to his room in the posh hotel owned by former model Suzy Longthorne. Kerry, the teenager filling in as a chambermaid until a big break makes her a rock star, discovers him swinging from the four-poster, his head decidedly askew. Eager to quash any bad publicity, Suzy, her ex-hubby, former rocker turned TV pop music critic Rick, Suzy’s celebrity chef Max, Pillars clubmen Donald Chew and Bob Hartson, and the West Sussex constabulary all insist it’s suicide. But Suzy’s friend Jude, the self-appointed Fethering area crime-stopper who’d been helping out the short-staffed (and -funded) Suzy, immediately suspects murder. With the assistance of her neighbor Carole Seddon (The Torso in the Town, 2002, etc.), Jude eventually establishes a timetable of who was sleeping where, when, and with whom, and assigns motives to everybody, ranging from a cover-up of homosexuality to revenge for thwarted stardom to solicitor duplicity. There’ll be another death, a vexing attempt at seduction, and a first meeting with her son’s fiancée for Carole to deal with before the red herrings are dispatched in a burst of silliness.
Smatterings of the Brett wit don’t compensate for gaping plot holes and emphatically distasteful attitudes toward homosexuality.