Will an unsavory catch by a pair of Portsmouth fishermen be enough to take DI Andy Horton’s mind off his mother’s disappearance 30 years ago? Don’t bet on it.
From the beginning, everything about the fishing expedition off Boulder Bank spells trouble. Leslie Nugent and financial consultant Clive Westerbrook had met only once before the outing that ended abruptly when Nugent reeled in a human hand. Nugent, who’s worked for years at a firm of butchers, is visibly shaken, and Westerbrook, after promising to take his boat back to the marina and make a fuller police report, vanishes, along with the boat. Horton wonders if the severed hand could belong to Alfie Wright, a vicious career criminal who did a bunk after forensic mental health expert Ewan Stringer’s testimony inexplicably got him bail. No such luck; the donor of the hand is actually petty thief Graham Langham, who’s surely been up to no good since his release from prison two months ago. To top it all off, DCS Adams, of the National Crime Agency, swoops down and grabs the case, announcing grandly that the jurisdiction is his and that the Hampshire CID should back off. None of this stops Horton from pursuing the investigation, but his heart isn’t really in it; instead, he’s still obsessed with tracking the last known movements of Jennifer Horton, who he recently learned (Shroud of Evil, 2014) worked for British Intelligence and was somehow involved with Lord Richard Eames before she went missing in 1987, leaving her son to be raised by relatives who took even more secrets to their graves. Horton makes further progress in his inquiries, but it’s slow going for all parties.
The low-concept procedural, cluttered with nondescript suspects and forgettable clues, is little more than a distraction from Horton’s continuing quest into his mother’s disappearance. Pray that he solves the mystery before it undermines any more of his present-day cases.