Bea Abbot and her suburban London domestic employment agency get caught in the middle of a pitched battle over who’s going to control the corporation Holland Holdings.
You know you’ve reached a pivotal point in your relationship with the man in your life when he turns up in the office you run out of your home and asks you to give him an alibi for the afternoon. Bea's been through a great deal with Leon Holland (False Diamond, 2014), but despite his best efforts, they’ve never been to bed, let alone perjured themselves for each other. Now that his much older brother, Briscoe, is trying to push him out of the company that was divided between the two of them earlier that year, Leon is clearly worried. The day started when his Rolls wouldn’t. On his way to a meeting his cellphone had summoned him to at a car park, he’d barely escaped getting run down and decided to skip the meeting. Leon’s fears turn out to be well-founded. Lord Lethbury, an old friend of Briscoe’s and a major shareholder in Holland Holdings, is found fatally shot in the car park. So is Margrete Walford, whose ugly divorce proceedings are stopped dead. The murders signal the beginning of a campaign of terror, or at least of nuisances, against the Abbot Agency. Between holding Leon’s hand, bucking up his skittish niece Dilys, who’s been staying in one of Bea’s spare rooms, and watching as romances develop between Dilys and Keith, the engineer Bea calls to eradicate a virus from an infected computer, and between Anna, recently appointed head of the Holland Training College, and Hari Silva, who runs a protection agency, Bea often feels as if she’s the only grown-up in the room.
The no-nonsense exposition leads to endless distracting eruptions, a Rube Goldberg–esque finale and an uncharacteristically overextended postlude. Not Bea’s finest hour.