Criminal and police misconduct occupy a newly reinstated copper.
Back at Lancashire headquarters after a suspension for bad judgement, Detective Chief Inspector Henry Christie (Substantial Threat, 2003, etc.) is having a difficult time of it. The Chief Constable barely supports his return, while Det. Supt. Anger and Det. Insp. Jane Roscoe, his former lover, can hardly wait to show him the door again. He gets the least interesting cases, a routine domestic murder and a follow-up on a charred body abandoned at the county border. But the burn victim turns out to be a small-time Manchester hood named Keith Snell who supported his drug habit by doing courier work for—well, no one’s quite sure. Possible players include the Spaniard, Carlos Mendoza; the Sicilian brotherhood; and Rufus Sweetman, a local bad boy recently released from remand on a murder charge trumped up by Det. Supt. Easton of the Area Constabulary. Some of these miscreants are strewing the landscape with corpses and hints of drug deals gone bust. As Christie’s old chum Karl Donaldson, a London-based FBI agent, focuses on Mendoza, Christie zeroes in on The Invincibles, bent coppers working with Easton. The plot will take major twists before all ends in a blood bath.
Oldham works Bill James’s hard-boiled side of the street with almost equal success: torture, double-dealing, gang reprisals and a central character with a wavering moral compass.