DEAD MAN’S WHARF is the fourth book in Pauline Rowson’s Marine series with Detective Inspector Andy Horton and Sergeant Barney Cantelli. Horton and Cantelli are called to investigate threats made to one of the presenters on Wrecks Around Britain, a program which seems destined to never run out of material. Perry Jackson and Nicholas Farnsworth have a respectable number of viewers for their program although Horton has never watched it. Now Jackson is claiming that an anonymous caller is leaving messages telling him “to watch” his back and “you’ll pay for what you have done.” Both men claim to have no idea to what the caller if referring; Horton is convinced it is a publicity stunt.
They are then called to a nursing home which specializes in treating patients with dementia. One woman claims that she was attacked by an intruder. Horton initially writes the incident off as the product of a confused mind until he learns that the woman’s roommate has died. Irene Ebury’s property is missing from the storeroom and her son, Peter, serving a prison sentence for armed robbery, is found dead in his cell. That is too much coincidence to be accepted as anything but real and Horton has another reason to want to know what happened to Irene Ebury. She had been a friend of Horton’s mother, the mother who disappeared when he was a child and left him in the care of the state.
When Daniel Collins is found dead after he drives his car off the wharf and into Portsmouth Harbor, his parents refuse to accept that he was drunk. Daniel was not a drinker yet there was enough alcohol in his system to suggest that he was impaired on Christmas Eve. His parents know absolutely that Daniel was killed, forced off the road, for a reason they can’t imagine. Horton isn’t convinced but the parents are so sure their son is a victim of someone’s malice that Horton agrees to investigate.
To further complicate his life, Horton has been handed the work of a detective chief inspector without the promotion or the pay increase. He has, however, been given Detective Constable Harriet Lee to help with his new case load. Horton does not doubt for an instant that she is a spy for the upper levels of the department. Question is why does someone think he needs a watcher?
Despite all the various strands that Horton has to hold, the stories hold together well and Horton and Cantelli are interesting characters to meet. Although it is the fourth book in the series, it is the first that I have read. I intend to remedy that.