cover image Hirelings Tale

Hirelings Tale

Jo Bannister. Minotaur Books, $23.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-24400-2

Bannister deftly examines the dedication and determination of three types of hirelings--a prostitute, an assassin and a British police officer--in this eighth, expertly crafted entry in her Castlemere, England, series (Broken Lines, Forecasts, Feb. 22, etc.) . When a prostitute falls from the roof of a hotel, the police aren't sure whether it's accident, suicide or murder. But when they see her brutally beaten body and learn of the incredible amount of heroin in her system, they realize they have a savage murderer on the loose. Since an international business conference was taking place in the hotel at the probable time of the woman's death, Detective Superintendent Shapiro hones in on the conference's organizer, Philip Kendall, for information. The DS fears that the killer will hire an assassin to stop those who know his identity, and, indeed, someone shoots at Kendall. Then Shapiro is seriously wounded protecting the man from a second shot. Since Kendall protests that he knows nothing about the woman's murder and can't understand why anyone would want to kill him, the investigation seems to be at a standstill--until the dead woman's friend, who has been in hiding, phones to say she was with the victim while she was being beaten. Quirky Detective Sergeant Donovan is sent to pick up prostitute Maddie Cotterick so that she can identify her friend's killer. But they, too, are followed by the persistent assassin. Will Donovan be able to deliver Cotterick into the hands of his superiors, or will the assassin prove to be an inescapable instrument of destruction? Bannister pours on the tension as the ill-equipped Castlemere police force battle for justice in what seems to be a no-win situation. (Dec.)