Detective Chief Constable Bob Skinner’s wife, brother, and heart all fail him, but not his Scots gall.
Skinner’s American wife Sarah has returned to the US to bury both her parents. At their funeral, Skinner falls unconscious from an apparent heart attack. When his enemies on the Police Board back home take the opportunity to declare him unfit for duty, Skinner, overcome equally by outrage and panic, abandons his wife and children in the States to fight for his job in person. Angry and bereft, Sarah retaliates by taking up with an old lover, football star Ron Neidholm—Jardine (Poisoned Cherries, p. 939, etc.) endows his male heroes with large muscles everywhere, including, sometimes, between the ears—while Skinner works on his abs and his political enemies in Scotland. His Machiavellian calisthenics are interrupted when the remains of his brother, a man whose existence he had denied for decades, turn up in the flotsam of a flood. Michael Skinner’s body bears signs of violence, but Bob’s barely begun to investigate when he receives a frantic call from Sarah’s lawyer. She’s been found wailing over Neidholm, murdered by a weapon with her fingerprints on it. Luckily, there’s nothing Skinner (Skinner’s Round, 1996, etc.) can’t sort out, including adultery, dysfunctional family histories, corrupt politicians, and digital photography.
Larger-than-life and often more irritating than life, Skinner once again vincit omnes.