Detective Chief Inspector Harriet Martens, on a clean-up-Birchester campaign the press has dubbed `Stop the Rot,” is pulled off the detail when her police comrades are killed according to the list in Exodus: Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Since the third murder was of her immediate superior, she is assigned his task: Find the cop killer while working with Dr. Peter Scholl's input. Scholl and Martens differ over most aspects of the case, including the alleged sex of the perp. A new victim, who doesn't seem to fit the pattern of dead policeman, turns out to be a retired village constable. For all their conscientious detective work, it’s mainly a bit of luck that leads Marten to the culprit, though not before her precinct loses another man to the Batley Street fire (`Burning for burning`), another is neck-gashed (`Wound for wound`), and the press is hounding her for results when a lashing brings stripe for stripe. Ignoring Scholl's advice, Martens challenges the killer to go one-on-one with her, and Scholl must rescue her before a second meeting goads the demon to shout out the motives for the dastardly actions and Martens can make an arrest.
A bump in the estimable road for veteran Keating (The Bad Detective, 1999, etc.), who, almost out of petrol here, inserts a Bible-quoting policeman as a red herring, has Martens and School blather on about assuming responsibility and consuming pigheadedness, and runs through that Exodus list in grisly but predictable fashion.