It begins with a setup involving the police. A minor crook needs to be dealt with; a source gets Detective Chief Inspector Charlie Spate involved. At a racetrack, drugs are planted on Dieter Barschel, a one-time football (soccer) player whose best days are long behind him. Spate, transferred from London to Newcastle, is not above dipping himself into cooperation with villains and hanging out with known prostitutes. This time, these activities will bite him.
At the preliminary hearing, Barschel’s attorney, Eric Ward, makes short work of Spate on the witness stand. The Crown prosecutor is forced to drop the case. Spate is more than furious; he’s now in political hot water with his boss who’d like nothing better than to boot him out the door.
Barschel asks Ward for a place to lie low; Eric finds an old, abandoned house on the estate of his former wife, Ann. Then Ward is approached by a young woman claiming to be a reporter, desperate to interview Barschel. When Ward brings her to the house, they find Barschel dead from a shotgun blast. The so-called reporter soon finds herself the victim of a hit-and-run. Ward and Spate, who dislike each other on a good day, soon find themselves having to work together to learn what’s really going on. And it’s far more sinister than anyone realizes.
The Football Murder is the fifteenth Eric Ward mystery by British author Roy Lewis. First published in 2006 under the title of Death Squad, it’s been republished along with the other mysteries in the series by Joffe Books. It’s a fast-paced story, taking twists and turns in almost every chapter to keep the attention focused and usually riveted.
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.