Jerusalem Lane is a little piece of Dickensian London untouched by development, its inhabitants mainly refugees from pre-war central Europe. But could elderly Meredith Winterbottom really have been killed for the politics of another age?As Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla and Detective Chief Inspector Brock delve into the lane's eccentric melting pot, past and present interlink in unexpected ways. What connects Mrs Rosenfeldt and Adam Kowalski to a smooth property developer and an American academic? And what is Meredith's son Terry up to? Not to mention the dottily Marxist sisters . . . Is this a recipe for murder?'More please, Mr Maitland' - The Washington Times'A first-rate, gripping work of fiction . . . Maitland makes the figure who haunts his pages so human that you know you are in the presence of a great writer.' - Brisbane News
Two Scotland Yard detectives investigate the murder of Karl Marx's great-granddaughters (via an illegitimate son) and the theft of the unpublished manuscript of a fourth volume of Das Kapital, in this engrossing mystery from an Australian writer making his American debut. When 60-something Meredith Winterbottom is found dead in her London flat, Det. Sgt. Kathy Kolla and Chief Inspector David Brock are called in to determine the cause: was she murdered? Meredith and her two sisters had refused to sell their apartment to developers hoping to gentrify Jerusalem Lane, a charming neighborhood where Eastern European immigrants pass the time debating philosophical points and harboring ancient grudges. Kolla and Brock uncover a host of suspicious characters, but the coroner rules death by suicide. The case is reopened six months later, when Meredith's sister Eleanor is murdered. The remaining sister, Peg, who looks like the Queen Mother but is an unreconstructed Stalinist who spouts her great-grandfather's theories while serving tea in fine china, fears for her life. The detectives wade though a maze of misleading clues until, in a dramatic finale, Kolla realizes the strange truth behind the crimes. Maitland has a disconcerting affection for red herrings, which he strews about with a heavy hand. But his deft depiction of his idiosyncratic characters, his evocative portrayal of Jerusalem Lane and his clever use of Marxist theories and history make this nothing less than a Kapital read. FYI: The Marx Sisters was shortlisted for the British Crime Writers Association's John Creasy Award for Best First Mystery.