“As chauffeur and crier for the Honorable Mr. Justice Sidney Piggott, judge of the High Court, Ned Frost was no stranger to taedium vitae. It went with the job….Before lunch, an instructress with purple hair shooed a herd of bewildered children into the emphatically empty benches for citizenry at the back of the courtroom. One little girl, blessing herself, sketched a genuflection toward Piggott. Frost enjoyed that. The puce-headed pedagogue hissed meanwhile at her charges to be quiet, which they already were, to stop fidgeting, which they had not yet begun, and to pay attention, which no reasonable person possibly could.”
It is July 14th and Dublin is in the midst of a heat wave. The courtroom of Justice Piggott is unbearably hot. Frost, looking around sees a young man in the public galleries, areas rarely used because there was enough room in the courtroom for interested spectators. More surprising, the young man is wearing a leather jacket in a room with barely enough air to breathe.
Frost was required to pick Piggott up at 6:00; when the judge did not come out by 6:30, Frost went to the judge’s chambers to inquire, politely, about the change of plans. Judge Piggott is sitting in his desk chair, definitely dead.
Inspector Denis Lennon and Sgt. Molly Power are assigned to the case, a difficult one because Judge Piggott was universally disliked. Finding someone who didn’t want the judge dead would be difficult. Finding someone who did was all too easy.
In the course of the investigation, Lennon and Power discover that Judge Piggott was involved in art fraud, had an estranged wife, a son whom he had ignored or humiliated, a string of mistresses, and a city full of people who took issue with his rulings. And there is the mystery boy. A sketch is created and circulated through the Four Courts and then by the media. Blond hair was found in the gallery from which the young man studied Judge Piggott and the same hair was found in the judge’s chambers near the body.
The police discover that the young man they want to question is David Roundstone but he has disappeared. Then a priest is murdered in the same way that Judge Piggott was killed and Dublin panics, believing there is a serial killer in their midst.
Include a couple of gangland figures who are dying while in hospice care but aren’t yet ready to leave the world they knew and the police have a complicated case to untangle.
The plot resolves itself satisfactorily and the reader needs to keep in mind that’s it’s not over till it’s over. In the meantime Andrew Nugent writes funny situations within the story that made me laugh.