In a third outing, Detective Chief Inspector Sidney Walsh, of the serious crimes division that serves the Cambridge area (Deadlocked, 1995, etc.), faces some knotty problems when archaeology professor Sir Gordon Lignum is found dead in his study, killed by a blow to the head. The victim had started his last day by colliding with motorcyclist Samantha Leverington, putting her in the hospital. Later, at the nearby dig where his students were hard at work (on land bought by developers and required by law to be explored for traces of ancient dwellers), Sir Gordon was vitriolic with students Andrew MacGregor and Melissa Fairbrother, accusing them of planting the cuneiform tablet unearthed by Melissa and threatening to have them expelled from university. Hovering on the margins of the case are further suspects, including some impatient landowners and jealous fellow academics. Walsh and his support staff--Detective Constable Brenda Phipps (who valiantly invades the haunts of Samantha's motorcycle buddies), Arthur Bryant and others--work long hours of surveillance and interrogation, but it's a solution from left field when it finally arrives. Tepid stuff, despite its elaborate ramifications: the pace is rarely more than plodding; the style wordy, heavy-handed, and even preachy at times. Strictly for die-hard fans of the British police procedural.