Unlike his retired master Sir Kenneth Aubrey (A Hooded Crow, 1991), bullheaded Patrick Hyde isn't allowed to go gentle into that good night: Aubrey's replacement, Peter Shelley, talks him into going to India to look into Hyde's old mate Philip Cass's story that he didn't kill his mistress, film star Sereena Sharmar, wife of the minister of tourism. From the beginning there's no mystery about who really murdered Sereena: it was the outraged husband, oily V.K. Sharmar, whose wealth came from harvesting heroin poppies. But when the aging prime minster dies and V.K.'s wily brother Prakesh insinuates V.K. into the job, both Delhi Station and Shelley, an old school chum of V.K.'s, reverse their engines and hang Cass out to dry. The fate of one Englishman is nothing, of course, compared to the reputation of a statesman who can bring about Indian peace and stability, not to mention an open door to European trade. Disgusted with London, Hyde goes it on his own. First, he struggles to follow Cass's frantically cryptic hints to the evidence of the Sharmars' corruption; then, hearing that Cass has escaped from prison, he follows his trail to Kashmir in hopes of catching him there before his police torturers can apply the coup de grÉce. Oh, and he sets his own girlfriend, Ros Woode, to get close to V.K.'s mistress, Sara Mallowby, landing her in as much solitary peril as himself. By the time of the rousing climax, Ros will be sitting terrified aboard a flight to Paris waiting for the two men across the aisle to assassinate her, while wounded Cass and dogged Hyde will be dodging airborne pursuers as they climb a mountain pass to Afghanistan. Hyde thinks his Indian adversaries are still playing the games of the 70's, but this whole story has an unabashedly period flavor, from its bold loner hero to its transparently compromised politicos. Enjoy, enjoy.