This is the ninth book in the Joe Sandilands series, but is set earlier than the rest in 1920 and 1922. Another difference is that although Joe is the main character a lot of the action is seen through the eyes of Lily Wentworth, a female constable, brave and resourceful but not quite "out of the top drawer". Because of cuts, her job is on the line, but Joe adds her to his staff for a special job, which requires her to be able to pass as out of the topmost drawer. The nuances and small pettiness of class difference and snobbery add interest and some humour to the story.
Meanwhile, there has been a killing. A prominent admiral, on the point of retirement, and an acquaintance of Sandilands, has been shot as he returns home late at night with his wife. At first sight it seems to be an assassination by Irish terrorists, an open and shut case. But then there seem to be indications that Russian revolutionaries may be involved. This ties in with the special duties that Joe has recruited Lily for. Is there a red plot threatening the great and the good of the British establishment or are more domestic issues involved?
The plot is complex and at times tortuous, but, if followed with care, it does all make sense and the solution ties up enough of the loose ends to be satisfactory.
In addition to Lily we meet some more of Joe's team - his over-protective secretary, Miss Jamieson, the enigmatic James Bacchus of Special Branch and his deputy, aristocratic and arrogant Rupert Fanshawe late of the Grenadier Guards. Through the actions and reactions of these characters we get and interesting and, I think, a fairly accurate representation of London life at the beginning of the twenties.
I really enjoyed this book and I hope we see more of Lily Wentworth in the future. She's good value.