Two men meet to conclude a very private business transaction in the empty store room of an NHS hospital. A patient sees them as they leave and believes she recognises the face of a one-time notorious murderer. But the patient is Miss Amy Tupper, dutifully prowling the ward to exercise her newly repaired varicose veins, and Miss Tupper, a retired actress, is known for the power of her imagination and the relish with which she follows the press reporting of lurid crimes.
The store room from which the two men emerged is found, however, to be far from empty. In a cupboard is the strangled body of a young foreign nurse.
The police very quickly acquire a prime suspect. But Michael Beddoes, a consultant surgeon at the hospital, is convinced the young pharmacist taken into custody is incapable of murder, and begins asking his own questions.
At the same time a local councillor, Gerald Nubb, is feeling his way cautiously but unswervingly towards the exposure of extensive corruption involving the town council and the top heavy bureaucracy of the local Health Service.
And of course there’s still Miss Tupper, whose idiosyncratic view of the case isn’t taken seriously until it’s almost too late.
Josephine Bell is brilliant at describing and exposing small town graft and the faceless machinations of hospital administration, and into this she has woven an excellent murder story.