cover image The Rich Detective

The Rich Detective

H. R. F. Keating. Mysterious Press, $18.95 (248pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-506-9

Keating's latest mystery is a sophisticated work: a slice of edgy crime fiction that hints at dark obsessions percolating beneath the surface of William Sylvester, a detective inspector with South Mercia CID. Often the butt of his colleague's jokes, Bill is a resolute, miserly, somewhat lonely chap. He lives for the hunt, taking the occasional break for Jude, a kindly whore, and a Spanish holiday. While on the latter he buys a lottery ticket and wins a million quid. Suddenly his solitary life changes. The old leather jacket looks a shade beat up. But more important, his unease with his superiors becomes intolerable. Sylvester is convinced that antique dealer Charles Roanoke is a killer, separating several wealthy nursing-home residents from their fortunes, then mysteriously killing them off. But proving the influential Roanoke's guilt from within the force is hard. Proving it after resigning becomes an exercise in almost deranged determination that Keating ( Dead on Time ) masterfully depicts. There are comic asides (a couple of would-be victims prove stubborn, refusing either to die or to fork over their resources), but for the most part events are somber and endlessly frustrating as Bill adjusts to a new life of leisure, with the core of his daily existence ripped out of him. (Apr.)