Rumour has a Memory
Elizabeth Anderson and Hollis Danby are feature journalists for the national magazine Off The Wall. During a world tour of the supergroup JAGGED EDGE, Elizabeth and Hollis interview lead singer Kevin Richardson. Richardson, a British star for twenty-five years, is the long-time friend/collaborator of fellow Brit star David Blakely. Unknown to Richardson, Elizabeth and David were lovers fifteen years before. This is inadvertently revealed during a party following a JAGGED EDGE concert. Richardson is so intrigued by this information he decides to telephone Blakely and twit him about letting his former lover get away.
Blakely, however, denies any knowledge of Elizabeth. Richardson is undecided whether Blakely or Elizabeth is lying -- he is inclined to believe it is Blakely -- Richardson knows him well.
Richardson decides it would be a fun idea to bring Blakely and Elizabeth together and see what happens. Elizabeth and Hollis become involved in doing a series of articles about avant-garde art shows and galleries. When Richardson discovers that Blakely, who is also a painter, has donated several of his paintings to a gallery in New York which is hosting a benefit, he sends some information about the show to Hollis, who takes the idea to her editor.
Hollis and Elizabeth go to New York to cover the showing where Blakely's paintings are being auctioned. The meeting between Blakely and Elizabeth is far from cordial, but it sets off a series of nightmares for Blakely in which he is haunted by the past he cannot remember. He decides that Elizabeth is somehow the key to this past, and attempts to get her to help him -- she refuses.
Blakely, a man in his mid-forties, was a heavy drug user in his twenties and early thirties. There are several years during this period about which his memory is almost entirely nonexistent, and he has relied on the people who work for him to supply the details. They don't know everything about him, however -- during one of his frequent trips alone he encountered Elizabeth in San Francisco and spent several months with her while writing songs for a new album. One night after a jam session with some other musicians, Blakely saw his roadie disposing of the body of a young girl. He had been smoking cigarettes laced with Angel Dust and believed what he saw was an hallucination, with the help of suggestions from the roadie. Unfortunately, he also forgot about Elizabeth. Taking a plane home to London, he forgot her existence except for a nagging unhappiness, a feeling that something was missing from his life, and an inability to find a woman to replace her.
There are several press photographs of them together that he has never seen, taken by photographers in San Francisco. By the time Blakely was in San Francisco again (five years later) his memory could not be reclaimed except in dream snatches from his nightmares. Although he has been drug-free for fifteen years, the memory impairment seems permanent.
Three months later, Hollis and Elizabeth go to London to continue the gallery series. Blakely, now at home in St. John's Wood, arranges to have a showing at a gallery in London, hoping to contact Elizabeth again.
Michael Callahan, Hollis and Elizabeth's London editor, meets them in London and accompanies them to galleries and etc. The first meeting between Blakely and Elizabeth in London is at the premiere of a film. Elizabeth and Hollis are taken to the premiere by Michael; Blakely is accompanied by his new lover, a supermodel named Echo. This is not a good reunion for either party.
Before Blakely's showing at The Whitechapel Gallery, his former roadie, Digby Parsons, is found murdered in Chicago, clutching a piece of a magazine article written by Hollis and Elizabeth and showing a photo of Blakely's painting of him.
Hollis, Elizabeth and Michael go to Blakely's showing, where they see Kevin Richardson again.
Michael and Hollis are thrown into one another's company quite a bit, since he is their London editor. Hollis has been attracted to Michael since she first met him, but was somewhat intimidated by him, and has been stand-offish as a result. Michael begins to realize how many good qualities Hollis has, how much he enjoys being with her, and that he likes her.
Blakely goes to see Elizabeth, to ask her for help in getting his memory back. She refuses and they fight, which ends up in their spending the night together. Hollis and Michael also spend the night together, and in the morning Elizabeth is so distressed to discover Blakely in her bed that she pushes him onto the floor. He goes to see Charles Byrne, his old friend and agent of many years, and demands to know why Elizabeth was kept from finding him fifteen years before. Charles is somewhat confused by David's demand for knowledge which he only vaguely remembers himself, but he does recall that John Anderson, the assistant to a California rock promoter, was involved.
Blakely is starting to remember a party at Benny Garland's estate -- Garland is the rock promoter for whom John Anderson works. He also remembers the body of a girl in the water, but his memories are still too vague to be of much use. Charles Byrne has a party for Beltane Eve, which is a costume ball. All the guests are to come as characters from Shakespeare. Hollis, Elizabeth and Michael are invited, as are Blakely and Echo.
Blakely buys Elizabeth a very expensive diamond pendant, and a ruby collar for Echo, and has them delivered. Echo, thinking this is a parting gift, keeps her necklace. Elizabeth sends her's as a donation to a London charity and has the thank you card sent to Blakely. He is so incensed by this that he goes and redeems the necklace (thereby paying for it twice) from the charity.
Blakely and Echo go to the party as Oberon and Titania. Elizabeth goes as Puck, and Blakely puts the necklace on her during the party. There are six men dressed as Othello who also attend the party. Charles Byrne is murdered and his body left in the pantry, where it is discovered by his secretary, Marge, and his houseman, Frank. The following morning Echo is arrested for the murder, and Blakely pays her bail. Marge, however, insists it was John Anderson who committed the murder. When Blakely and Elizabeth discover that Echo also saw John Anderson the previous night at a gay nightclub, Heaven, they go to tell the police.
The police inspector at Scotland Yard, Kathleen Doherty, is disinclined to believe them, and thinks they are simply trying to protect Echo. When she is exonerated through blood and skin testing, Doherty reluctantly realizes Blakely could be right.
Hollis and Elizabeth are due to return to California at the end of August, and have only two weeks left in London. Since they both will have time off from the magazine after this, Blakely arranges for them to go to the South of France, where he has rented a villa for them. He wants to go see a doctor in London who specializes in hypnosis -- Echo believes this doctor can help him fully regain his memory.
Due to a fight between Elizabeth and David, nobody goes to the South of France. Hollis and Michael go to a castle in Scotland, where there is an attempt to kidnap Hollis; the kidnappers believing she is Blakeley's girlfriend. Someone has hired them to warn him off the murder investigation. Michael foils the kidnap attempt, and they return to London. Elizabeth has gone off with Echo, and no one knows where either of them are. When they return, Elizabeth and David make up their quarrel, and the following evening he takes everyone out on the town.
During this evening Kathleen Doherty is reunited with her former lover, Jeremy Bartlett, owner of Chastity Records. Kathleen is called away to John Anderson's townhouse on the Isle of Dogs, and Jeremy accompanies her. They discover a collection of video-tapes, one of which seems to implicate David in the original murder.
David goes to see the hypnotherapist, and is able to remember that John Anderson and Digby Parsons were involved in the murder of a girl fifteen years before. Skippy Nelson, Echo's escort at Heaven the night of her arrest, is found murdered. David finds the body when he goes to talk to Skippy about that night.
Next, Charles Byrnes' lawyer (and lover), Lawrence Corbey, is found murdered after he meets with an old friend (unidentified) and arranges to have lunch with Hollis. He never shows up for the lunch, because he is dead. Hollis and Elizabeth have come up with an idea to start a magazine, which they hope David will finance. David is delighted, since this means Elizabeth will not return to California, but Michael is put out because he doesn't understand what his role in the venture will be. He sulks, and fights with Hollis, who returns to California before she is scheduled to do so. She decides to investigate John Anderson on her own, and arranges to interview him.
Michael forestalls her by luring Anderson to London. David discovers the identity of the man in the video -- the one Kathleen thought was him, the one who could have been the murderer. He is Jason Miles, a Labor member of the House of Commons. They search his country estate, and find a cache of video tapes similar to those in John Anderson's townhouse. Miles winds up going to Blakely for help in trapping the real murderer -- John Anderson. Blakely comes up with an idea for a costume party, and they lay their plans to trap Anderson.
Anderson does show up at the party, costumed as the Emperor Ming (as are Blakely and Jason Miles), intending to kill Miles and possibly Blakely. Instead, they manage to corner him and David breaks his jaw. He is restrained before he can throw him down the stairs, and Anderson is arrested.
Now plans for the magazine go forward. Everyone is given a title -- Michael as Editor-in-Chief, Elizabeth as Euro Editor and Hollis as U.S. Editor. Several more people are hired and work begins on the magazine, now titled Rumour. Blakely leaves for a world tour and life will hopefully settle into a non-murder routine.