Miller, Danny - 'The Gilded Edge'
London 1965, early one fine morning, Metropolitan Police Detective Vince Treadwell and DCI Maurice McClusky are sent to an address in Belgravia where a murder has been reported; at the same time two associate detectives have been sent to an address in Notting Hill where another death has occurred. At the address in Belgravia, the body of an investment banker and gambler named John Beresford is found located in a self-contained flat in a basement. Near the body are the remains of "reefers" and lots of cigarette butts, together with a couple of empty champagne bottles and glasses with remains of champagne in them. In an upstairs bedroom is Isabel, the former girlfriend of the deceased, sleeping. The police doctor and scene of crime technicians are already at work, collecting fingerprints and other data. The other two detectives sent to Notting Hill are shocked to see the body of a former nurse and black prostitute Marcy Jones who has been struck so severely on the back of her head with a hammer that her skull has been crushed.
Isabel is the primary suspect of the murder of Beresford. She attempts to shoot herself but Vince punches her unconscious and ultimately saves her life. She is taken off to a private Harley Street hospital and is put on suicide watch and is on heavy sedation on doctor's orders. Stories appear in the press indicating that Beresford was using domestic violence against her and she had killed him through self defence.
DCI Maurice McClusky (Mac) is due to retire soon from the police and to give his colleague more responsibility tells Vince to be the lead detective on this case. To check the background on the case, Vince visits illegal drinking dens in Notting Hill, which in the 1960s did not have the cachet it does today. These "dens" were run by the self styled Black Power leader Michael X. Vince also visits the nightclubs of Soho which were controlled by the infamous gangster Billy Hill and he also goes to the exclusive gaming tables of the Montcler Club in Berkeley Square where associates of Beresford frequent. He meets such luminaries as John Asprey who owns the club as well as a private zoo in Kent, the wealthy Simon Goldsachs, Lord "Lucky" Lucan and many others.
Vince in his searches for evidence finds himself embroiled in a world of corruption and espionage and some romance before he can get at the truth.
I was charmed by this second novel by this author that is set in the 1960s, a period I knew very well but I was rather irritated the use of the term "billionaire" in a story set at that time, a reference to a future "energy crisis" and China being a huge exporter of goods in the future. A lot of the events in the book are based on true facts that occurred around that time and the fictional "Montcler Club" is based on the Clermont Club run by John Aspinall, "Asprey" in the book.
All in all even allowing for these faux pas of 21st century terms in a 1965 context, this author has researched the period very well and written an intensely exciting book with an extremely sympathetic and capable main character. The story was very evocative of the times and I enjoyed it enormously. I look forward to reading further fine police procedurals featuring Detective Vince Treadwell. Well recommended.
Terry Halligan, England