Time was when Peter Pascoe’s wife Ellie was a bright star active in lots of save-the-world causes, from Greenpeace to Liberata, which works on behalf of female political prisoners. Now, it seems, her principal occupation is getting threatened, first with kidnaping by a smooth pair of operators she frightens away from her front door, then with assault by a furtive watcher who contents himself with attacking her helpful friend Daphne Aldermann instead. But Ellie, packed off with her daughter Rose and watchdog constable Shirley Novello to Nosebleed Cottage, the out-of-the-way place Daphne’s bought from ancient Liberata founder Serafina Macallum, can’t keep away from the action. While her husband and his Mid-Yorkshire colleague Supt. Andy Dalziel are chasing leads hoping to figure out why anybody would have it in for Pascoe’s wife (ex-con Franny Roote, who’s convinced Pascoe’s evidence landed him in a mental institution? Kelly Cornelius, the fugitive accountant Pascoe nearly drove to her getaway plane before turning her in?), the women at Nosebleed Cottage hunker down for a siege that will feature gunrunners, spies, hostages, a meeting between epic supermales Odysseus and Aeneas, and, yes, a dark and stormy night. Plotted with all the exuberant inventiveness of Dalziel and Pascoe’s best (On Beulah Height, 1998, etc.), though Hill’s salute to the heroics of middle-aged womanhood ends with a flurry of melodramatics that’s a shade extravagant for heroines of either sex.