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MALICE IN LONDON


by Graham Thomas

Fawcett 2000
ISBN: 0-804-11840-x

Reviewed by Jennifer Ashley

When the body of a prominent councilman is found in the Thames, DI Erskin Powell is called to investigate. The councilman, he discovers, had supported developers who want to tear down south London council housing and put in upscale shopping, business, and apartment buildings. Powell quickly piles up suspects: the tenant who organized protests against the development, the labor party councilman who opposed the dead man, the conservative party member who wanted the development but didn't like the dead man's politics, the developer himself, and, of course, the victim's wife.

On the way home one night, Powell stops in at his favorite pub and makes friends with a waitress who has come from Canada to stay with her boyfriend. When he over imbibes, the girl, Jill, takes him to her flat and lets him spend the night on the sofa. Soon after, Jill disappears, at about the same time a restaurant critic is found dead near the pub--with an apple in his mouth.

Powell believes the two cases are connected, but just as he deepens his involvement in the case, his supervisor, who enjoys making Powell's life difficult, pulls him and assigns him to work on a mountain of reports. Frustrated, Powell gives the case to his subordinates, but manages to keep a hand in things as well as to search for the missing Jill.

This book is fast-paced and readable. The author knows London well, and takes you there. Powell professes (to himself) attraction to several of the female characters in the book, but the events of the case reveal to him how much he misses his absent wife, who is on sabbatical in Canada.

A straightforward read with good development of the suspects and characters.

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