The appeal of Lewis' ex-policeman attorney-sleuth Eric Ward diminishes with each novel. Now married to rich, much younger Anne Morcomb, his eye problems almost cured (Dwell in Danger, etc.), he runs a practice on the seedy side of Newcastle, dealing with clients who are mostly nasty, indigent and dull. His major concern here is with the kidnapping of Kate Cullen, whose jobless blue-collar father Tony has custody of her in the wake of his divorce from US-based career-woman Ruth Geraghty. Tony is certain his ex-wife and her tycoon father have engineered the match. He's also in hock to loan-shark Sam Turriff, as are half the impoverished of the area--and crusader Eric would love to build a solid case against Turriff. Peripheral forays into the dingy local drug-trade and our hero's jousting with old enemy Detective-Superintendent Mason don't add any cheer.