Harpur and Iles reopen a closed case.
When undercover cop Tom Mallen was ambushed and killed while infiltrating Leo Young’s nefarious businesses, Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles and Detective Chief Superintendent Colin Harpur were sent to Larkspur to sort matters out. They managed to nab another cop for the deed (Undercover, 2012, etc.), but now the Home Office wants matters revisited to find out who maneuvered him. Iles, still seething over Harpur’s affair with his wife, insists that the pair reconnoiter Mallen’s death scene, a derelict building complex, with Harpur playing dead in the rubble while he, alas, has an emotional breakdown over that tryst. Harpur picks up a discarded ballpoint, stabs him in the cheek with the pen, and the two run off. Word of this episode gets out to a reporter, who unwisely asks questions of the wrong people and is himself stabbed to death. Meanwhile, an eyewitness to the Iles/Harpur situation surfaces. He’s also been privy to a meeting at the site between Mallen’s widow and Young’s wife. When Iles goes off on another rage that the Home Office hears about, it’s up to Harpur to smooth things over. Mrs. Young, who’s never before questioned her husband’s livelihood, now tries to allay her suspicions with a visit to the wife of Mallen’s killer that effectively closes the case with a dying message clue.
In their 30th outing, Harpur and Iles are still at odds, still droll and still among the best the British police procedural has to offer.