In hedonistic 1960s London, a police detective investigates the unexpected connections between two suspicious deaths: a call girl and a rock star.
In the summer of '69, the hard-living rockers of the British Invasion still rule London when former Rolling Stone Brian Jones is found floating in the pool of his palatial home. On a quiet residential block that should be far removed from the swinging party scene, Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen investigates the murder of a young woman. But the victim, known professionally as Julie Teenager, was a call girl for the rich and famous. Her client list is long, and thick with suspects-all rich, powerful, and protected. As DS Breen hones in on his prime target, he receives a pointed warning: Watch your back.
Fortunately, Breen doesn't have to work alone. His keenly intuitive, deeply moral partner Helen Tozer, despite the pregnancy that's interrupted her policing career, can't help being drawn into the case of a girl used and cast aside.
Tense and dramatic, unfolding at a blistering pace, Play With Fire is a gripping police thriller set in the darkly technicolor world of the 1960s.
British author Shaw's solid fourth mystery starring the Metropolitan Police's Det. Sgt. Cathal Breen (after 2016's A Song for the Brokenhearted) opens with the discovery of the body of guitarist Brian Jones, the former Rolling Stone, in his swimming pool. Later, some investigators suspect Jones didn't die of natural causes, but his death has nothing to do with the main plot: Breen's investigation of the murder of a prostitute who called herself Julie Teenager, whose body was concealed on top of an elevator in her London apartment building. Though the dead woman, actually 26-year-old Lena Bobienski, had many clients, Breen is surprised to learn that Scotland Yard's vice squad has no file on her under either name. A press report claiming that her johns included members of the establishment suggests the reason Bobienski was officially unknown to the police, despite the beat constable's awareness of the nature of the traffic in and out of her building. The serious injury or death or three more people raises the tension. Fans of Deborah Crombie will be pleased, but those expecting a substantial look at the Jones case will be disappointed.