Intricate and grittily realistic, this sixth entry (after Blood Kin ) in Hart's consistently taut English procedural series featuring the compassionate, dogged Inspector Roper, centers on a bizarre murder. A motorcyclist is beheaded with what may have been a length of wire stretched across a country road at night, his head found a quarter of a mile away. Dead is ex-copper Gerry Pope, who quit the force before he could be proven to be bent. How badly bent will be determined by Roper and his men as they painstakingly decipher Pope's cryptic records of his new career as private eye. He was apparently running a nasty extortion scheme, convincing drivers involved in auto accidents that there had been a fatality, although only one of his blackmail targets, stockbroker Martin Craven, had actually killed anyone. Alert to nuances of tone and action, Roper traces leads to Craven, his Norwegian wife and a local farmer couple, all of whom may have been cheating with each other. The solution is logical and powerful and completely unexpected. Especially appealing is Roper's relationship with retarded Annie Lee, young sister of vagabond tinker Hughie Lee, discoverer of the body. A subtle, superior puzzle. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1993 Release date: 04/01/1993 Genre: Fiction
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