Back to the corrupt, seedy British burg of Ridley, where churlish newsman Tommy Tompkins muck-raked in An Up and Coming Man (1977). Here Tommy's just a minor character; the hero is churlish policeman Jack Ritchie, who's part of the hopeless investigation of the knifing of a rookie copper--until the beleaguered police chief decides to frame a truly foul local drug pusher for the killing. Ritchie refuses to play along, risking his job, and instead sleuths on his own, believing that the murder involves the dead rookie's closet-homosexual private life. This is an improvement for Branston--the police procedure is authentic, spare, and gritty; the plotting much less gnarled than in his debut. But for a lot of readers, two Branstonisms will continue to annoy: those unlovable heroes (Ritchie's also a racist and a blithe adulterer) and the heavy moralizing.