Pop-culture journalist Shaw digs back into the swinging ’60s to solve the murder of a Beatles fan.
This debut novel introduces an unlikely pairing in “Paddy” Breen, an experienced, albeit cynical, criminal investigator on the London Metropolitan Police’s Murder Squad, and Helen Tozer, a new deputy constable assigned to the squad at a time when women were tokens. The year is 1968, and a body is found not too far from Abby Road and the Beatles’ recording studio. Breen and Tozer are assigned to work the case of the dead girl found under a mattress near a housing complex. The two soon develop a theory that she may have been one of the many groupies who spends their time hanging around the Beatles, hoping for a glimpse of the Fab Four. London and the youth culture are changing, and Breen is not ready for the upheaval, but Tozer, who hails from the countryside, embraces the times. Although an odd pair, they bond in an unexpected sort of way and soon find themselves puzzling through the case. Meanwhile, Breen fights his reputation as a coward, earned when he ran away during an attack on another officer. The investigation takes them into strange places, from a wealthy former model’s country estate to Beatle George Harrison’s driveway to a ball for the benefit of the impoverished nation of Biafra, but eventually, the police pair makes their way through mod London to find out who killed the girl and why. Shaw’s profession lends itself to accurately portraying London when the Beatles and Rolling Stones ruled the music charts, but in his hands, the residents of 1968 England (with the exception of Breen and Tozer’s parents) wax crude, rude and sometimes vulgar at the tamest of provocations.
An interesting, albeit meandering, story about people who like neither the police nor one another.