A second featuring the glowering presence of Detective Inspector Denis Bowker (Murder in a Quiet Place, 1994). Here, he and aide Sergeant Jack Knight are on loan to the Thames-side village of Bedlow, assigned to solve the three-month-old arson murders of shopkeeper Ronald Matthews, his wife and two children. Bowker and Knight are given a list of local suspects--all checked out by displaced Detective Inspector Harry Mason: porn distributor Doug Ronson, who may have supplied Matthews's shop; small-time drug dealers Wayne and Gary Burton, who own a garage in town; tavern owner Arnold Hinksey, a fishing pal of Matthews; ex-con Billy Swanson and slow-witted boatyard worker Shane Hambleton; Matthew's last mistress Moira Druce; and his shifty lawyer Lloyd Davies. Bowker throws his massive weight and threatening invective at them all in turn, roiling the waters sufficiently to pinpoint the porn distribution center; nail down the major drug source; embarrass a few respectable local big shots; spark another pair of killings and finally nail the arsonist--mission accomplished. Bowker's determinedly obnoxious persona is a mixed bag--he loves to dwell on the glum, gory details of cases past and gleefully leaps the barrier of politically correct police behavior when he can get away with it. But how vile can a guy be who loves Dickens? Mostly entertaining, slightly offbeat procedural.