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On a filthy night in Shropshire with the rain pouring down and the station house parking lot a sea of mud, DCI Neil Paget sees Constable Kate Regan safely to her car, but when he heads for his own vehicle he’s waylaid and his throat cut. Luckily for him, an arriving batch of officers scare off the culprit and rush Paget to hospital. His loyal sidekick Sgt. Tregalles is assigned the case, with Supt. Alcott supervising. Suspicion falls first on Kate Regan’s abusive husband Paul Marshall, whom she’d recently left. But things start moving again only with Paget’s return to the fray. Sidestepping Alcott’s insistence that he stay home and heal, he accompanies Tregalles on interviews, hares off to London in pursuit of a clue, and is bedeviled by fragmentary memories of that fateful night in which a raspy voice seems to be saying, “That’s for Jill,” Paget’s wife, who died in the line of duty. Dogged police work eventually turns up a slew of other throat-cuttings followed by tormenting phone calls, and Paget finally gets the victims’ family members to make the connection, but not before Grace, a precinct worker devoted to him, is held at knifepoint, and he almost loses his new love.

Paget’s struggle with physical trauma and the emotional jolt of taking a back seat to Tregalles in an investigation is almost as interesting as his falling in love again in that understated British way. Like all the Paget cases (Thread of Evidence, 2001, etc.), a jolly good show.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2003
ISBN: 0-312-30739-X
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2002


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