Pryor & Cummings one-ups the locked-room mystery with an entire locked building where a scientist is murdered. There is no gun and no suspect despite the building being locked up and the high-tech surveillance security reveals no one coming or going.

The site is a massive computing center where earthquake predictions are generated by super-scientist and media personality Plato Vane. He’s an entitled jerk, surprised that he would even be questioned but then with a  name like Plato Vane (hear Vain) you know he has to be a jerk.

The relationships are internecine. The main detective, a walking trope-machine named Albert Pryor has a daughter who dated the deceased and is dating his current partner. Vane is married to Pryor’s ex-wife to add to Pryor’s joy. Pryor is walking copaganda, you know the schtick, the good cops are persecuted, sure they cross the line, but they clean up the messes we can’t handle.

If author Rod Pennington were paid per cliche, he would not need to write another book. However, mystery readers often love cliches, it makes new books seem like a comfortable old sweater, soft from hard living. Pryor is a very stereotypical character, the irascible, often violent, cop who crosses the line. There is nothing original about him. The plot, though, is fresh, though absolutely not anchored in reality. The mystery is fair and the solution quirky and unique. There are good points that somewhat mitigate the tiresome cliches and stereotypes.