All’s still for the best in that best of all possible worlds, day-after-tomorrow Edinburgh. The omniscient city fathers have distracted the populace from global warming’s raging drought by combining bread and circuses in the Edlott, the compulsory lottery whose prizes range from a month’s worth of five-minute showers to a pension for life. Meantime, Investigator Quintilian Dalrymple (The Bone Yard, 2000, etc.), whose lover, ex-con/ex-prostitute Katharine Kirkwood, vamoosed back in 2022, has solaced himself with the embraces of Sophia the Ice Queen, the city’s top medical officer. In such a perfect world, why has big Edlott winner Fordyce Kennedy suddenly gone AWOL, and why do both he and demoted auxiliary Frankie Thomson turn up dead in the Water of Leith? It doesn’t take long for Quint and chilly Sophia to figure out the true cause of the deaths—nicotine introduced into bootleg whiskey—but they’re not in time to prevent an assault on a retirement home or head off a terrorist threat from what looks like a well-organized gang with designs on Edinburgh’s precious water supply. With the city teetering at the edge of anarchy, it’s the perfect time for Katharine Kirkwood to turn up again, and the pariah appears just in time to undermine Quint’s authority and make him wonder, even as he remonstrates with the Ice Queen, exactly what Katharine’s connection is to the mounting violence.
As combustible as Quint’s first two cases, though the series’ swiftly rising page count suggests that dystopian Edinburgh isn’t the only place that may be spinning out of control.