cover image Eve of Destruction

Eve of Destruction

Martin Edwards. Foul Play Press, $22.95 (202pp) ISBN 978-0-393-04635-9

Harry Devlin is a younger Rumpole, a lawyer based in Liverpool instead of London but with similar tastes in offbeat criminal cases. His steadier partner, Jim Crusoe, says that ""for Harry Devlin, even a bus ticket promised a plot twist,"" and this fifth book in the series (though the first to be published here) is a jaunty, atmospheric outing just begging to be made into a film for A&E. Devlin is hired by Steven Whyatt, a twitchy man who designs garden mazes, to prepare divorce proceedings against his adulterous wife, Becky. As evidence, the wronged husband produces telephone tapes of Becky and her lover--whose voice Harry recognizes, but is not at first sure from where. Turns out the man is Dominic Revill, an unctuous executive headhunter who lives with his wife, child and nanny in a deconsecrated church. When Revill, Becky and the nanny are found murdered in the former church, suspicion veers between Becky's first husband (a mental patient with a history of violence), Steven's equally violent brother and Steven himself. While trying to win the love of a reluctant lady lawyer, Devlin sorts out the real killer almost by accident. But any lack of plot credulity is more than made up for by some excellent Liverpool jokes (e.g., the sign on a door that reads ""THIS DOOR IS ALARMED,"" next to which someone has scrawled ""AND THIS WINDOW IS BLOODY WELL TERRIFIED."" (Sept.)