A drug bust turns into a murder investigation when a fire leaves a charred corpse on a dealer’s posh Lancashire estate.
With the help of undercover police sergeant Jack Clark and the muscle of Detective Constable Clyde Northcott, Chief Inspector Denis Charles Scott “Percy” Peach (Witch’s Sabbath, 2006, etc.) leads Brunton’s Armed Response Unit on a raid on Marton Towers that nets a multinational assortment of baddies. But after the last copper’s left, a fire breaks out in a converted stable that houses many of the household staff—a fire that leads police to the remains of carpenter Neil Cartwright. Peach lets his fiancée, Detective Sergeant Lucy Blake, who’s still seething about being left out of the ARU action, join him in the murder probe. Together the two interview the cook, the butler, the gardener and the housekeepers. Each of them withholds a bit of evidence—not surprising in view of the Towers’ now-incarcerated owner Mr. Crouch’s fondness for hiring staff with a criminal past, hoping that their awareness of their own misdeeds would keep them from inquiring too deeply into his. Percy and Lucy peck away at the lies when they’re not too busy pecking lustily at each other, and soon enough they have a murderer to deliver to their unfailingly ungrateful boss, Chief Superintendent Thomas Bulstrode Tucker.
A by-the-book procedural with too many loose ends to satisfy any but the most devoted Peach fans.