In the middle of a General Election, someone is targeting former members of hte ultra-exclusive Merrion Club, youthful hedonists addicted to excess transformed into pillars of the political establishment. Next in the killer's sights is charismatic, ruthless Edgar Carlton, the man poised to be the next Prime Minister. But, with power almost in his grasp, Edgar will not stand idly by while his birthright is threatened.
When Inspector John Carlyle finds a body in a luxury London hotel room he begins a journey thorugh the murky world of the British ruling classes which leads all the way to the top. Operating in a world where right and wrong don't exist and the pursuit of power is everything, Carlyle has to find the killer before Carlton's people take the matter into their own hands.
About the Author
James Craig has worked as a journalist and TV producer. Born in Scotland, he has lived and worked in London for thirty years.
Read an Excerpt
Shuffling into the tiny kitchen of his one-bedroom flat in Tufnell
Park, north London, George opened a cupboard above his head and pulled out an economy tin of baked beans. After opening it,
he poured about half of the contents into a small pan resting on the stove. What was left in the tin went into a small fridge that was otherwise almost empty, containing only a pint of milk and a couple of bottles of Red Stripe beer that had been on special offer in the local minimart.
Taking a box of matches from the worktop, George lit the gas and began stirring. When he estimated that the beans were on their way to being hot, he fished his last two slices of white bread out of their wrapper, and carefully dropped them into an ancient toaster.
Switching it on gingerly, he stepped back quickly, fully expecting the machine to blow up at any moment. Returning his attention to the stove, he also kept half an eye on the bread. George knew that multi-tasking had never been his strong point, and more often than not something got burnt. It was quite stressful, really. Giving the beans another stir, he had a quick taste. Though bubbling away nicely, they were still quite cold. He then decided to pop the toast;
the bread was barely coloured, but that was, he always thought,
better than waiting too long and incinerating it. Err on the side of
caution was his motto. Or, at least, it had been for a long time now.
Happier that he could now focus exclusively on the pan,
George relaxed. As he stirred the beans, he listened to the background hum of city life. George liked to listen.
Tonight, he could hear the television in the flat downstairs over the ever-present rumble of traffic from the road outside.
After a few moments, his ears picked out the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs. He heard them stop outside his front door.
After a couple more seconds, the buzzer sounded, harsh, flat and insistent.
At first, George didn’t react. He couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to ring his bell. When was the last time he’d received a caller? With no intention of answering the door, he carefully speared a bean and dropped it on to his tongue – still not quite hot enough.
The buzzer sounded again: another short, authoritative burst.
George hesitated. Maybe he should see who it was. But would he have time to answer the door without the beans getting burnt?
He remonstrated with himself for even debating about it. Why should he bother? It would only be some door-to-door salesman,
a cold caller, wanting him to change his electricity supplier or something similar.
Dropping the toast on a nearly clean plate, he wondered if he should have any butter. The buzzer sounded again, longer this time, as if the person outside knew for sure that he was there.
‘Go away!’ George hissed, under his breath, as he gave the beans one last stir. Turning off the gas, he decided against the butter and poured the beans directly over the toast. Sticking the pan under the tap, he half filled it with water and dropped it in the sink.
He was hunting for a knife and fork when the buzzer went again, a series of short staccato bursts that said: Come on, answer
the bloody door. I’m not taking no for an answer.
‘All right, all right, I’m coming.’ George turned away from his dinner and shuffled into the tiny hallway. As a matter of routine,
he put his eye to the spyhole. There was no one there. Typical,
he thought, bloody kids. They’ll be hiding up on the next floor,
thinking this is hilarious. With a sigh, he turned back to his plate.
Before he’d even taken a step, the doorbell went again, much louder this time, the buzzer right above the door drilling harshly into his skull.
‘You little sods.’ Turning on his heel, he swung the door open and stepped on to the landing, his chin making perfect contact with the fist that had been waiting for it all this time.
Waking up, George had a nasty taste in his mouth and a throbbing headache that made him want to cry. He was sitting in the living room, his hands and legs tied to the only upright chair. His upper chest had also been taped to the back of the chair, to ensure that he was totally immobile. There was another strip taped across his mouth. Realising that even utility companies would probably not go this far in order to convince customers to switch their accounts, he started to panic, gnawing at the tape with his teeth, and trying desperately to push himself out of the chair.
‘Relax, relax.’ The voice was quiet, soothing. ‘Just try to keep breathing.’ But the hand on his shoulder did nothing to help calm him down. It was wearing a rubber glove like the kind doctors wear, or those you see killers snapping on in movies, just before they butcher their victims.
Forcing himself to draw in a few deep breaths, George noticed the plate on the coffee table in front of him was empty now, save for a few breadcrumbs and a couple of stray beans. His stomach rumbled in protest, even though dinner was the least of his worries right now. Next to the plate was a large kitchen knife with an evil-looking serrated edge. George knew that the knife had not come from his kitchen. In a moment of bowel-freezing clarity, he realised that you wouldn’t bring along a knife like that if you weren’t intending to use it.
Shaking his head, George started to sob. Big, fat tears rolled down his cheeks, and over the tape covering his mouth. Surely this couldn’t be the end? His time had gone so quickly. He had squandered it so badly. There hadn’t even been enough that had happened in his life for anything exciting to flash in front of his eyes. What he saw was more of a short loop that kept repeating,
like the trailer for a film that you know is going to be really quite disappointing.
‘Compose yourself,’ said the voice.
George sniffed. He could hear the banging of pans in next-door’s kitchen. A young Asian couple. There were voices,
laughter. He didn’t know their names, but he had nodded to them on the stairs once or twice. A couple of times, he’d overheard them having sex through the paper-thin walls. Once he’d even jerked himself off to the rhythm of the woman’s cautious groans. That was the best sex he’d had in a long time.
The memory of it caused a twinge of arousal in his groin,
sparking a flicker of fight in his belly. Rocking backwards and forwards on his chair, he started screaming through the tape. All that came out, however, was a cautious moan, not unlike that of the careful lovemaking next-door, which he’d liked to listen to whenever he had the chance.
‘Enough.’ Again, there was the hand on his shoulder. ‘Don’t wear yourself out.’
Head bowed, George nodded.
For a moment, there was silence. Then the voice continued.
‘You have a very modest abode here, don’t you, George? All that education. All that money. All those opportunities. All that . . .
privilege. How did you end up like this?’
George shrugged. He badly wanted to blow his nose. It was a question he himself had pondered many times.
The hand reached over and picked up the knife. George felt himself gag. The tip of the blade tickled the back of his neck.
‘You know why I’m here?’
‘You know what I’m going to do?’
Again, George tried to scream.
The blade appeared at his left cheek, reflecting the light from the sixty-watt light bulb overhead. ‘It can happen either when you’re dead, or while you’re still alive, but I would suggest the former.’ His guest finally stepped in front of him and brought the point of the blade to the tip of George’s nose. George felt himself go cross eyed as he tried to keep it in focus. The blade was moved a few inches back as if to give him a better look. ‘You have a choice. I’m not a sadist. Not like you.’
George vigorously shook his head, eyes wide. Along with the rubber gloves, the visitor was wearing a thin, clear, plastic raincoat, the kind that tourists bought when caught out by the weather. It hung all the way down to the floor and looked ridiculous.
‘Oh, you’d say that now. But then . . . when you had the chance.’
George felt something press into his flesh, then a burning sensation, then the agony of the knife chiselling into one of his ribs. He reached deep into his lungs and bellowed. The sound that emerged was like a constipated man trying to pass a cricket ball.
‘The harder you make it for me, the worse it will be for you.
I’m no expert in this kind of thing, but I should be able to make a decent effort at cutting your throat. Sit still now . . .’
George was trying for one last deep breath as he watched the knife disappear under his chin. Looking down, he was distracted by the sound of something splattering off his killer’s raincoat.
The knife flashed in front of him for a second time but by now his head was slumped on his chest, as if he was mesmerised by the blood that had filled his dinner plate to overflowing.
Inspector John Carlyle of the Metropolitan Police dropped the copy of Vogue back on to the coffee table in front of him and yawned. In the corner, his sergeant, Joe Szyszkowski, was snoring away quietly. Above Joe’s head, on a large television screen, a news reporter was standing outside Buckingham Palace speculating that the prime minister was finally going to call the long-awaited General Election. All manner of important things were going on in the outside word and here he was, sitting in a private health clinic on Harley Street, waiting for some Italian crook to finish having a tummy tuck.
‘How long is this going to take?’ he asked no one in particular.
The sour-faced receptionist looked up from her computer and gave him an exasperated look. Having a bunch of policemen camping in the clinic’s reception did nothing for the atmosphere of the place. Not to mention her ability to spend the morning talking to her mates on the phone while updating her Facebook page. ‘The doctor said Mr Boninsegna should be coming round in the next few minutes,’ she said slowly, as if talking to a particularly dim child who needed everything repeated several times. ‘He will let you know as soon as his patient begins to regain consciousness.’
‘You are very kind. Thank you.’ Commissario Edmondo
Valcareggi, of the Italian State Police, smiled at the girl like a wolf contemplating the lamb that was about to be lunch.
You dirty old bugger, Carlyle thought sourly, you’ve got to be
even older than I am. Having to babysit this old lech from Rome was a major pain in the arse. With his shock of white hair and sharp features, Valcareggi looked like something out of a Ralph
Lauren advert. The expensively casual clothes he was wearing looked as if they must have cost many months of Carlyle’s salary.
How much did Italian police get paid, anyway? ‘You’re sure that the man in there is actually Ferruccio Pozzo?’ he asked for the umpteeth time. The man recovering from his operation down the corridor was registered in the name of Furio Boninsegna.
Valcareggi smiled indulgently. ‘There is no question of it. We are absolutely sure. He’s had plastic surgery before, and is travelling on a fake passport of course . . .’
‘Of course,’ interjected Joe, who had woken up and was helping himself to a fresh cup of coffee from the pot by the reception desk.
Taking a sip, he smiled at the receptionist, who made a show of blanking him. Shrugging, he sat back down next to Carlyle.
‘. . . but we have a DNA match,’ Valcareggi continued. ‘It is definitely the right man, and he is very worth catching. Pozzo has links to the various crime clans in the ’Ndrangheta syndicate. He has been a fugitive for almost two years now, and this is his second round of liposuction. We almost caught up with him the first time, at a clinic in Nice, but he left it about an hour before we arrived.’
‘It happens,’ said Joe sympathetically.
‘This time,’ Valcareggi beamed, ‘we’ve got him. No problem.’
‘Anaesthetic always slows them down,’ Carlyle quipped. ‘I
don’t know why we don’t use it more often.’ Reaching down, he picked up another magazine and quickly flicked through the pages until he came to a large picture of two well-dressed men hovering on the cusp of middle age. The pair beamed at him as if they had just won an Olympic gold, taken the casino at Monte
Carlo for ten million dollars and fucked Scarlett Johansson all ends up, all on the same day.
The strapline read: Better than you, and they know it.
Tossers, Carlyle thought. But he started reading anyway.
THE GOLDEN TWINS TAKE CENTRE STAGE
The Carlton brothers will be running the country soon;
Eamonn Foinhaven profiles a new political aristocracy
in the land.
One is known as ‘the Sun King’, the other ‘the dark prince’, nicknames they picked up on their fabled journey from the playing fields of Eton,
the forge of leaders down the centuries, through Cambridge University to the House of Commons, and now on to the very gates of power, in front of No 10 Downing Street itself.
If the perception in Westminster is that Edgar Carlton is the prime minister in waiting – the odds on him taking the top job shortening every day, after every new fumble and misjudgement by the current incumbent – his younger sibling (by two minutes), Xavier, is hardly living in his shadow.
The political classes are now agreed that Edgar Carlton has all the necessary skills for great office: the charm, the drive, the appetite to lead from the front. Xavier, on the other hand, who is as likely to be found in the gossip pages as in parliamentary reports, has more doubters.
Already handed the post of Shadow Foreign Secretary by his brother, it seems increasingly certain that he will get the chance to prove these doubters wrong. It is even whispered that the twins have agreed a secret pact, with Edgar promising to stand down as PM in favour of Xavier once a second term is secured.
The Carltons fit perfectly with the mood of the moment, the country’s new taste for austere glamour. Their story is now well known: the sons of the celebrated union between Hamisi Michuki, the Kenyan model who stormed London society in the 1960s, and Sir Sidney Carlton, a rakish tycoon who rose to the heights of Paymaster General in successive governments in the early 1960s, before his political ambitions were derailed by an unfortunate incident with a pair of strippers from the Cowshed Club, a notorious haunt of gangsters and other pre-Swinging Sixties lowlifes.
Happily for the boys, the best genes of both parents have been passed on; they acquired their mother’s stunning looks and their father’s political nous. Now, they are poised to sweep away both the gloom of the ‘new austerity’ and also the soul-destroying cult of the working-class rapscallion, or ‘cheeky chav’, both of which have plagued the country in recent years. In the class-ridden twenty-first century, the Carltons are the ultimate ‘anti-chavs’, standing against everything that is common,
vulgar and ugly. Surfing a popular wave of optimism and glamour, they have, quite simply, left routine politics behind. ‘They are so in touch with the zeitgeist, it’s frightening,’ declares Chelsea-based style guru Sally
Plank. ‘Their peers are footballers, pop stars and royalty, rather than other politicians. They realise that becoming a credible celebrity is ninety per cent of the job done; because if you’re a celebrity, the public will forgive you for being a politician.’
Potentially the first brothers to hold senior government office together since just before the outbreak of the Second World War, they are fiercely loyal to each other. ‘It’s almost like a gay political marriage,’
remarked one colleague who declined to be named. ‘They have an almost telepathic understanding and are constantly watching each other’s backs.’
Not that they have much to worry about in that regard at the moment,
for whatever reservations ordinary members may have about the brothers’ grip on the party is more than offset by the current opinion polls. After many years in the wilderness, power once again beckons.
Lucky or not, Edgar and Xavier Carlton are in the right place at the right time. They look young, modern and in touch with the public.
‘They will win, that much is certain,’ says pollster Martin Max of pressyourbutton.co.uk, the UK’s leading 360-degree sentiment-sampling service, ‘the only question is by how much. The Carltons could end up with the biggest majority in modern history, eclipsing the 232-seat majority of the Spencer government in the early nineteenth century.’
Joe Szyszkowski tapped him on the arm. ‘Look . . .’
Carlyle looked up at the television screen just in time to see a sleek Jaguar carrying the current prime minister sweep through the gates of Buckingham Palace.
‘Here we go,’ Joe said. ‘Election time.’
‘Big surprise,’ Carlyle grumbled. ‘The silly old sod left it as late as possible. Not that it’s going to do him any good.’
‘Who will you vote for?’ Valcareggi asked bluntly.
‘That’s between me and the ballot box, Edmondo,’ Carlyle said stiffly. He held up the magazine so that the commissario
could see the article that he had been reading. ‘But you can safely assume that I won’t be supporting this bunch of over-privileged chancers.’
‘The inspector is a real inverted snob,’ Joe laughed, whereupon
Valcareggi gave him a look that indicated he didn’t understand the phrase. Before the sergeant could explain, a nervous-looking man in a white coat appeared. Reflexively, Joe reached for his handcuffs.
‘Gentlemen,’ the doctor said quietly, ‘Mr . . . er, the patient is just waking up.’
‘Excellent!’ Carlyle pushed himself to his feet. ‘Let’s go and arrest the now not-so-fat fuck.’
Kitty Pakenham, a.k.a. Catherine Sarah Dorothea Wellesley,
Duchess of Wellington (1773–1831), wife of Field Marshal
Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, KG, KP, GCB,
GCH, PC, FRS, looked down benevolently from above the library fireplace, her gentle, amused smile no doubt reflecting the fact that the St James’s gentlemen’s club that bore her name had never – and would never – permit women to become members.
Beneath Kitty’s gaze, Edgar Carlton, MP, leader of Her
Majesty’s opposition, sipped gently on his Cognac de Grande
Champagne Extra Old and watched a series of familiar images that flickered on the television screen in front of him. The sound was muted – club members didn’t like noise, particularly when it was the news – but that didn’t matter, for Edgar knew it all off by heart. After grimly clinging on to power for as long as possible, the prime minister – the man Edgar would be replacing at No 10 Downing Street in a month’s time – had finally announced that a general election would be held on 5 May. The
Queen had agreed that Parliament be dissolved next week. The election campaign had begun.
Edgar took a large mouthful of his cognac and let it linger on his tongue. A wave of ennui passed over him, since the prospect of spending the next three weeks scrambling across the country,
meeting ‘ordinary people’ and begging for votes in marginal constituencies, was singularly unappealing. It was such a damn bloody chore. He knew, however, that there was no way round it. At least he didn’t have to worry about losing at the end of it all.
Finally letting the brandy trickle down his throat, he gazed at the television screen and scrutinised his opponent. Looking back at him was a tired, beaten, middle-aged man who had achieved nothing other than to feed his ego for a few squalid years. Even with the sound turned down, Edgar could interpret the man’s soundbite: ‘This election is a big choice. The British people are the
boss, and they are the ones that will make that choice.’
‘I think that they already have, my friend.’ Edgar smiled. As if on cue, a graphic appeared on screen, displaying four opinion polls that had been published earlier in the day. They confirmed that Edgar’s lead had strengthened to between ten and sixteen points. Short of being caught in flagrante with a couple of altar
boys, there is no way I can lose, he thought. Simply no way.
Raising his glass to Kitty, he turned his back on the television and savoured the peace of the empty room. With a shiver, he realised that he wouldn’t be seeing much of this club from now on. Pakenham’s was almost two hundred years old, and for a while it had been the headquarters of the political party that he now led. Previous club members had included various princes of
Wales, the writer Evelyn Waugh, and Joseph White the media magnate who rose to number 238 on the Sunday Times Rich List,
before fraud and obstruction-of-justice convictions landed him in a Florida prison. If it was good enough for people like that,
Edgar thought, it was good enough for him. Pakenham’s was one of the few things in life that gave him any sense of identity.
Certainly, it was one of the few places where he could get any peace.
Catching sight of himself in a nearby mirror, Edgar smiled.
Black don’t crack, as the saying went, and so it was with him. He had his Kenyan model-turned-mother to thank for that. The
Audrey Hepburn of Africa, they’d called her, and she’d given him the good genes, the good looks and the non-receding hairline. He had his father, Sir Sidney Carton, to thank for everything else. Truly he deserved his ‘Sun God’ moniker. He let his gaze linger on the image in the mirror, and gave a small nod of approval. The flowing locks had gone, replaced by a number-one crop on back and sides and a number four on top,
inspired by the new American President. On the edge of extreme,
it was just on the right side of suggesting a football hooligan or a squaddie: utilitarian, athletic, a no-nonsense haircut that talked about control and focus. It worked well, too, with today’s ensemble: sober two-button grey suit, white shirt and gentle pink tie, rounded off by a pair of sharp, well-polished Chelsea boots.
Suited and booted indeed! Not for nothing had he been placed in the top five in Modern Men’s Monthly magazine’s list of the world’s best-dressed men for the last two years, beating the likes of David Beckham, Daniel Day-Lewis, James McAvoy, Jude
Law – and, best of all, his twin brother, political colleague and sometime rival, Xavier.
A polite cough drew Edgar from his reverie. He half turned to find William Murray standing behind him. One of the more important minions, Murray was one of twelve ‘Special Advisers’
in Edgar Carlton’s team. Now that he was on the brink of power,
it was a team that had swelled to more than fifty people, and seemed to be getting bigger by the day. Murray was in his mid-to-late twenties, only four or five years out of Cambridge,
and appeared charming, cynical and energetic. With an indeterminate brief, he was a general fixer who could turn his hand to
PR, lobbying, and one or two other things that Edgar didn’t need to know about. Of somewhat brittle temperament, the young man had no pedigree to speak of, and was a ‘bit of rough’ who could take the fight to the other side whenever the going got heavy.
Of course, Murray was not a club member, but sometimes you had to let the hired help into the inner sanctum, in the course of performing their jobs. The young aide crossed the room, nodded a greeting to his boss and stood to attention by the far end of the fireplace. Pulling a sheaf of papers out of an expensive-looking briefcase, he waited expectantly.
It suddenly struck Edgar that the face looking back at him could be his clone from twenty or so years ago: when younger,
fresher, smarter. Before he had time to get too annoyed by this thought, he felt his mobile vibrating inside his jacket pocket.
Pulling it out, he quickly read the text that had just arrived.
Smiling, he flashed the screen at his aide, not giving the boy time to read it. ‘It’s a good-luck message from my old headmaster.
That’s very nice of him.’
‘Yes,’ Murray agreed, a little bemused. His own headmaster –
at the Terence Venables Comprehensive in Hammersmith – had been sacked for getting one of the sixth-formers pregnant. Why anyone would want to keep in touch with their old schoolteachers was beyond him.
‘I will be the nineteenth boy from my school to become prime minister,’ Edgar explained. ‘If I am elected, of course. It’s quite a list: Walpole, Eden, Gladstone, Macmillan . . .’
‘Indeed,’ Murray nodded.
‘Assuming I do win,’ Edgar continued, ‘all the boys then get a day off in celebration. So there’s a lot riding on this.’ He smiled his most patronising smile. ‘So . . . no pressure.’
‘Did you see the latest polls?’ Murray asked, trying to move the conversation along. ‘Spectacular.’
‘Another month and we’ll be there, Mr Murray,’ Edgar beamed. ‘I’m heading for Downing Street, and I’m taking you with me.’
‘Absolutely!’ The young man bowed his head slightly, as if in prayer. When he looked up again, it almost seemed as if he might start crying out of gratitude.
‘So,’ Carlton lowered his voice even though there was no one else in the room, ‘let’s just make sure that there are no mistakes during the next few weeks, shall we?’
Murray lent forward to whisper back, ‘Yes.’
‘Now is the time for the utmost focus and complete professionalism,’
Edgar added. ‘We most definitely do not need any slip-ups at this stage.’
‘No.’ Murray smiled. ‘I fully understand.’
‘I know you do, William.’ Carlton stood up and gently grasped the young man’s shoulder. ‘You are a very smart young man.
Your parents must be very proud.’
Once again, the boy bowed his head slightly and, for a second,
Edgar thought that he could indeed see tears welling in his eyes.
‘Yes, sir,’ he whispered, ‘they are.’
‘Good,’ Edgar murmured. ‘That’s very good.’ Unsettled by such emotion, he took a step backwards. ‘Make sure you tell them just what an important job you are doing here. I know that
I can rely on you.’
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As a failed novelist myself, I recognise the amount of work, and soul searching which goes in to producing any work of fiction. A first novel is a learning curve and I desperately wanted to find good in this one - but I couldn't.My personal criteria for judging a book are; character, plot and literary style.Let us take each in order. Our detective, Inspector Carlyle, is the standard "'tec at odds with his colleagues". We get pages of back story on Carlyle, which shows that an attempt has been made to create a character. The problem is that, at variance with Rebus, for example, Carlyle's history is forced out in this book, which is clearly designed to be the first of a series. Rankin, more subtly, let Rebus develop as each book was released . Other characters within the work are; fellow policemen - none having Carlyle's commitment to serving the public; they are either time servers, waiting to retire, or career cops looking for patronage rather than to solve crimes. The baddies are just that, a collection of caricature politicians with no redeeming features. So, low marks on the character front.: let us try plot. The story concerns a group of politicians on the verge of forming a new government, when their past catches up with them. I will say no more to spoil the book for any potential reader. Once one has extracted the Carlyle back story (see above) precious little happens; talking to a couple of people with links to the politicos, leads our hero to a solution but, in best detective tradition, the initial solution is in error and the story wraps itself up in an unsatisfactory manner whilst Carlyle flounders. Let us not be unkind, this was never meant to rival Shakespeare, but there really is little novel in this opus so, low marks for plot too. Moving on to literary style and, bearing in mind what I have just said, this is not to be judged alongside the greats of World literature: so, does Mr Craig's style pass muster? Not for me. I know that the 'F' word has become the ubiquitous adjective for many people (everyone within this book) but, it becomes tiring after a time. In real life, many people punctuate each utterance with, 'you know', but writers do not feel the need for this level of realism. I was not petty enough to count, but I would suggest that expletives appears approximately twice per page. Even more damning, however, is the fact that James Craig feels the need to use such language within the main body of the text and, when he describes something as having 'tried soooo hard to be soooo stylish', my patience cracked. I was also confused by his continual product placement. Our hero doesn't just use a mobile, he reaches for the Samsung X125 with superior call control. Perhaps this is not an attempt at a crime story, but Mr Craig's way of collecting freebies from at least half a dozen products given the full treatment (thinks.... perhaps I should have another bash at this writing lark!)In the crowded market of detective fiction, I can find something better to read and will not be waiting upon Inspector Carlyle's next adventure.
A very gritty and cleverly plotted murder story set in and around Westminster in the run up to a general election.The principal character is the disaffected DI Carlyle. While the disgruntled loner at odds with authority is hardly a new model for a fictional copper, it works here, and he is entirely convincing. The settings were very well captured too, and I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of City of London School for Girls and Grodzinski's bakery, both of which I recognised as accurate!It seems as though this is merely the first in a series of novels featuring Detective Inspector Carlyle, and I look forward to it's successors..