Eric Ward is back. After a diminished role in The Slaughterhouse Murder by Roy Lewis, the former police detective turned attorney has a starring role in The Tattoo Murder.
Ward is retained by what at first appears a casual acquaintance at a bankers’ dinner. An executive with a merchant banking firm in Newcastle is worried about an investment in a major development project in the city. One of the key people involved in the project is another attorney, Jason Sullivan. Sullivan is the attorney and lover of Ward’s ex-wife and one of the reasons why they were divorced.
If Sullivan is involved, then it’s likely his ex-wife’s business is one of the investors in the project. Complicating everything is that Sullivan seems to be missing; his project accountant is nearly beside himself with concern about being held responsible for certain investments made with money for the development project. And Sullivan is at the center of it all.
Ward, after a somewhat angry meeting with his ex-wife, heads off to the northern French coast, where Sullivan is likely to be, where he meets an attractive woman who works for the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, who’s also looking for Sullivan. Sullivan has a painting, a painting looted from the Rijksmuseum during the Nazi occupation. The museum wants the painting back and is willing to pay for it.
Then the middleman who is supposed to be arranging the meeting with Sullivan is found dead by hanging. It looks like suicide, but it will turn out to be murder.
In The Tattoo Murder, Ward finds himself dealing with Nazi art, an ex-wife’s lover, missing funds, and rising gangland tensions – and that’s only for a start. The story moves quickly, requiring (and deserving) a close reading to keep track of all the plot developments and characters’ motives.
Lewis is the author of some 60 other mysteries, novels, and short story collections. His Inspector Crow series includes A Lover Too Many, Murder in the Mine, The Woods Murder, Error of Judgment, and Murder for Money, among others. The Eric Ward series, of which The Sedleigh Hall Murder is the first (and originally published as A Certain Blindness in 1981), includes 17 novels. The Arnold Landon series is comprised of 22 novels. Lewis lives in northern England.
It’s a cracking good story, and it’s good to see Eric Ward back to the major role in it.