As Detective Sergeant Kerry Lake listens, her lover, lowly police officer Vic Othen, stonewalls the Inquiry lawyer questioning him about police malfeasance in the racially charged Scout Pethor/Matthew Gain case, in which the two white men were acquitted of murdering Angela Sabat, a black American visiting England. Did Othen repay favors to Scout’s wealthy twin, P.D., a businessman with decidedly criminal investments, by removing evidence from the crime scene to encourage a Not Guilty verdict? When Angela’s mother, a journalist, flies over to research an article on her daughter’s death, she befriends Lydia Nate, whose new house now stands on the spot of the murder and whose husband Ferdy, from his jail cell, controls all the neighborhoods and goons not under P.D.’s sway, setting the scene for the obligatory Jamesian ambiguities and double-dealings. Who is tailing Kerry and Othen, the cops or the crooks? Who takes aim at Scout and misses, Ferdy’s people in the latest chapter of a turf war or P.D.’s minions to create public sympathy for his brother? Who manipulates Matt into the position of patsy, his former ally or mere paranoia? As alliances shift, sexual temptations beckon, snitches tattle, racial tensions escalate, Kerry must engineer a few Machiavellian twists of her own to insure that James’s unique brand of justice prevails.
Like the author’s Harpur and Iles series (Panicking Ralph, 2001, etc.), a tour de force of irony, with no motive taken at face value and no one, however well-placed, left unscathed.