I initially though this was the second novel featuring unorthodox detectives Bryant and May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit, but it turns out to be the third. I very much dislike reading series out of sequence, but in this case it seems rather mitigated by the fact that the books are presented as Bryant relating various past cases to his biographer. I'm not sure why that should make it less annoying, but it does.
The book is set during the "Winter of Discontent" of 1973 and starts with the destruction of a painting and the death of a lawyer at the Savoy. At first the two cases seem completely separate, but it soon becomes evident that both are part of a much larger mystery involving the large and wealthy Whitstable family.
The set up is intriguing and original and I like most of the book very much, but I felt it suffered from the presence of Sam Gates, a receptionist at the Savoy, who witnesses the first death and thereafter involves herself in the investigation. Her help is key to the final denouement and I thought this detracted from the characters of the real detectives. In the Afterword, the author states that the story was originally conceived as a different novel and later adapted to be a Bryant and May story, and it seems to me as though this character has been retained from that and shoehorned into the new version.
Other than that though I rather liked the book and will look out for the second book when I get a chance.