The murder victim of choice in this book is Katie Steelock, a minor TV celebrity, who unsurprisingly has numerous admirers and detractors. She meets her demise after leaving a tennis club party early, presumably to meet her killer by a nearby boat house. Due to her social connections her case is quickly taken up by Scotland Yard, in particular Chief Superintendent Knott, who is keen to make a conviction in order to gain a promotion. Yet he works with several local policemen as well. His desired quick conviction seems almost a given when they come across their prime suspect, Jonathan Limbery, who far from helps his cause, even if he is innocent. On the opening pages he seems like a nice person, but very rapidly this veneer disappears – yet despite his unpleasant persona did he do the deed? Not everyone is quite so sure.
Although this is an updated village mystery, there are still a large number of characters to take on board in the opening pages. Yet in the main most do not need to be remembered, as the reader never really gets close to any of them and to that end I couldn’t really get into any of the characters – the 80s mystery milieu probably didn’t help this. Though this is a book with a number of surprising twists and turns, with an unexpected ending which is fully prepared for, revealing Gilbert’s strength in plotting. Despite this though this tale struggled to keep my attention, the police procedural aspect might not have worked for me so well, which is a shame as I have enjoyed earlier Michael Gilbert novels such as Death Has Deeps Roots (1951) and The Danger Within (1952).
Just the Facts Ma’am (Silver Card): Set in a small village
John at Pretty Sinister seems to have had a better time with this book, so do read his review.