That bulwark of incompetence, Superintendent Thomas Bulstrode Tucker, head of the Brunton CID, sniffs a promotion to Chief Superintendent in the air—and that means a promotion as well for his detested underling, DI Percy Peach, if only the two officers can pull together in presenting their tales of mutual admiration to the Lancashire brass. It's going to be hard to pull together, though, since Tommy Tucker hasn't a clue about the Ladies Night his fellow worthies of the North Brunton Masonic Lodge staged at the White Bull Hotel, an evening that included Master of Lodge John Whiteman's festive toast, ladies' man Eric Walsh's mellifluous baritone salute to the fair sex, and Rosemary Whiteman's heartfelt response, all ending in the discovery of Walsh's strangled corpse in the hotel carpark. What especially rankles Peach (To Kill a Wife
, 2002, etc.) is that the victim wasn't urbane loan shark Darren Cartwright, who'd been receiving repeated death threats from someone apparently too shy to pull the trigger. But Peach, unlike his oblivious superior, won't be left in the dark for long, since he and his crew, headed by Lucy Blake, his sergeant and bedmate, display all their customary preternatural ability to ferret out secrets and to hammer at the likes of IRA sympathizer Adrian O'Connor and catering student/gang leader Wasim Afzaal—taking every available opportunity in between times to twit Peach's soon-to-be Chief Superintendent on his surpassing dimness.
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