The search for a colleague long presumed dead leads Chief Supt. Andrew Dalziel to 16 of the most jam-packed hours ever to strike the Mid-Yorkshire Constabulary.
Following the death of their daughter Lucy seven years ago, Gina Wolfe left her husband Alex, a one-time police inspector dropped from the Ilford force over unproved accusations of bribery. Alex retaliated by disappearing. Now Gina’s fallen in love with his old boss, Commander Mick Purdy, and can’t remarry unless Alex is proven to be dead. The problem is, he doesn’t act dead. Someone’s sent a recent photo of a man who looks like his twin to Gina, and Purdy has encouraged her to talk to his old mate Andy Dalziel, still recovering from a near-fatal bombing (The Price of Butcher’s Meat, 2008, etc.), about tracking him down. Before Andy can do more than take Gina to lunch, a nefarious pair stalking her on behalf of shady financier Goldie Gidman make their move. The resulting violence will send one of Andy’s favorite constables to the hospital, an inoffensive young man to the morgue, DCI Peter Pascoe to the forefront and the survivors scurrying about as if they were being chased by malefactors with pitchforks and burning brands. What mystery there is in the case of Alex Wolfe’s disappearance is solved with insolent dispatch, but Hill keeps a particularly nasty surprise up his sleeve for last.
The accelerated timetable gives Dalziel and Pascoe’s 24th a Rube Goldberg effervescence that contrasts effectively with the pervasive sadness beneath.