Chief Constable George Baxter continues to harass DCI Monika Paniatowski.
Since the death of his wife in an alcohol-fueled car crash, Baxter has been out to undermine Monika (Death’s Dark Shadow, 2014, etc.). Now he’s stuck his former lover with an assignment no self-respecting detective would tolerate: acting as adviser to the estate manager of Stamford Hall, where Gervaise de Courtney, 13th Earl of Ridley, plans to host a rock music festival. The assignment has some rewards. Katerina, Countess of Ridley, a Central European refugee who was rescued by her husband from the horrors of the 1968 Prague Spring, is a kindred spirit. And estate manager Edward Bell is compassionate, if somewhat oversold on loyalty to his employers. But the limitations of her position prey on Monika. She’s forbidden by the earl to meet with the folks he’s handpicked to handle security for the festival—a motorcycle gang called the Devil’s Disciples—because they don’t like police. And Baxter insists she stay at Stamford Hall 24/7 for the duration of the festival. While she’s stuck at the manor house, there’s a juicy murder to investigate back in Whitebridge. The body of unemployed tabloid journalist Terry Lewis turns up in an alley. Monika’s team is temporarily assigned to the grotesquely misnamed DCI Wellbeloved, who immediately tries to divide and conquer. He suggests to DI Colin Beresford that DC Jack Crane will soon snatch his job and tells DS Kate Meadows that she has the spark Beresford lacks. Naturally, they want Monika back ASAP. But will a solution to Lewis’ murder while Monika languishes behind the gates of Stamford Hall help their old boss, or will it just cement Wellbeloved’s position as their new leader?
It’s high time for Baxter to patch things up with Paniatowski, before their continuing feud overshadows Spencer’s deft plotting.