A series of murders with century-old roots provides Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, of the Brighton and Hove Response Team, with another full plate.
On a dark night in Brooklyn 90 years ago, four members of the White Hand Gang, armed with baseball bats, hustled stevedore Brendan Daly out of his house after killing his wife, Sheenagh. The men left Daly’s son, Gavin, and his daughter, Aileen, alive, a Patek Philippe pocket watch their only legacy, wondering where their father disappeared to. Many years later, Aileen, now 98, is viciously attacked by home invaders who strip her Brighton home to the floorboards. Gavin, still formidable at 95, tells Grace that he doesn’t care about the millions of pounds worth of antiques the thieves made off with; he only wants that watch back. What Gavin really wants, of course, is information about his father, but Grace can’t help him there. In fact, all he can do, it seems, is watch while a series of fences and thugs are killed in the crossfire among Gavin; his estranged son, Lucas, with whom he’s seriously at odds; Lucas’ enormous Albanian henchman Augustine Krasniki, aka the Apologist; and yachtsman/gangster Eamonn Pollock. As the pot boils furiously, Grace’s domestic life is equally fraught. While he’s waiting for his wife, Sandy, who vanished 10 years ago, to be declared dead so that he can marry his live-in lover, Cleo Morey, and give her baby boy, Noah, a proper dad, Sandy is plotting her return from foreign parts. And Amis Smallbone, the longtime home invader who emerged from prison in Not Dead Yet (2012), is cackling to himself as he plots condign revenge against Grace.
The surprises are few but genuine, the police procedure appropriately grueling, and the back story jumbled but heartfelt. Middling for this strong, starchy series, which increasingly deserves to be measured against the best in the genre.