William Shaw

A House of Knives

"..thrilling and satisfying. "


September 1968 and Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen, attached to Marylebone CID, is finding life difficult. His father, whom he looked after, has died, and – to his consternation – he has slept with his sidekick, Detective Constable Tozer, who is about to leave the force to return to her farm in Devon.

At the same time, a badly burnt body is discovered in a house. It takes until December to identify it. He is Francis Pugh, son of the Under Secretary of State at the Home Department, Rhodri Pugh. This puts a whole new complexion on the case.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Prosser, also of the Marylebone station, has taken early retirement, and is then found murdered. Cathal becomes drawn to his wife Shirley, and soon he is swept into a world of corruption, power politics and vendetta. To solve the case, and extricate himself from the situation, he has to fight fire with fire.

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This is the second book in a trilogy set in the late 1960s (the first being 'A Song from Dead Lips'). It opens in swinging London 1968 and it is not a place of peace, liberation and protest. There is money to be made from building a new future, with the inevitable corruption and criminality that goes with it. Cathal is drawn into this world, and finds himself up against the system. When the system fights back, Cathal has to draw on all his strengths to keep going. Real people form part of the plot, such as Eton-educated Robert 'Groovy Bob' Fraser the art dealer (who died in 1987 of AIDS). He draws Breen and Tozer into a world of hippiedom and heroin. Real events also feature, such as the infamous 'Alchemical Wedding' happening in the Albert Hall on December 18, when John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared on stage inside a large white bag. As with 'A Song from Dead Lips', the climax, this time on the roof of a high-rise block of flats, is thrilling and satisfying. And the denouement has that rare quality – it is surprising but at the same time, given all that has gone before, inevitable.

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