The staff of the Peculiar Crimes Unit search for a killer working
out of London's pubs, including a nonexistent one, while they parry
the usual threats to the PCU's existence.Only a week after the
untimely death of pathologist Oswald Finch (White Corridor, 2007),
the members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit face a challenging new
riddle. Who's meeting a series of middle-aged women in public
houses and giving them lethal injections, and why? Most of the
sodden witnesses they question had no idea what was going on under
their noses, but one observer - Arthur Bryant, the PCU's own senior
detective - vividly recalls seeing Carol Wynley outside the
Victoria Cross just before she was killed. The only problem with
his evidence is that it can't possibly be true, since the Victoria
Cross was demolished in 1925. Is Bryant, who's already mislaid the
funeral urn containing Oswald Finch's mortal remains, losing his
marbles? Or did an establishment that's been gone for 83 years
suddenly return for a one-night encore? While Bryant, his longtime
partner John May, DS Janice Longbright and the rest of the crew are
struggling to answer these questions, they must deal with the
arrival of Sgt. Jack Renfield, a stolid officer whose rule-bound
approach could spell the end for the PCU, and the news that their
building has been sold out from under them and they have to be out
in the morning.Learned excurses on pubs, conspiracy theories and
the blood of Christ keep the pot boiling, though the answers this
time aren't as satisfying as the wildly inventive questions.
One night, Arthur Bryant witnesses a drunk middle-aged lady coming
out of a pub in a London backstreet. The next morning, she is found
dead at the exact spot where their paths crossed. Even more
disturbing, there's a twist: the pub has vanished and the street
itself has changed. Bryant is convinced that he saw them as they
looked over a century before, but the elderly detective has already
lost the funeral urn of an old friend. Could he be losing his mind
as well?Then it becomes clear that a number of women have met their
ends in London pubs. It seems a silent, secret killer is at work,
striking in full view...and yet nobody has a clue how, or why - or
where he'll attack next. The likeliest suspect seems to be a mental
patient with a reason for killing. But knowing who the killer is
and catching him are two very different propositions. As their new
team at the Peculiar Crimes Unit goes in search of a madman, the
octogenarian detectives ready themselves for the pub crawl of a
lifetime, and come face to face with their own mortality...
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