Once again, DCI Monika Paniatowski’s team seeks to solve a thorny case without the expertise of its leader, who's in the hospital after having been the victim of an attack.
After losing his young son to cancer and his wife to grief and estrangement, Archie Eccleston had little left in his life to love other than his tiny allotment on Old Mill Road. When the county council inform him that they’re taking back the land, to be bulldozed with most of the others to make way for development, Archie knows what he needs to do. He chains himself to the fence, locking himself to the gate with two sturdy padlocks. For their part, the council call on the Mid-Lancs’ finest, who now include Police Cadet Rutter (known to her friends as Louisa Paniatowski, Monika's daughter), to cut him loose. The mad scramble of Archie, the police, and the council’s earthmover uncovers a body which in turn resurrects a cold case. Arthur Wheatstone, a fellow allotment holder, was found hanged in his garage four years ago in remote Barrow Village, and his killer conveniently disappeared. Wheatstone worked for British Aircraft Industry, so his death is of interest to a shadowy Mr. Forsyth, who wants certain details of Wheatstone’s employment to remain secret. With DCI Paniatowski (The Hidden, 2017, etc.) still in a coma, Colin Beresford has been left in charge of her team. But one never knows, does one? As Forsyth moves to neutralize the comatose Monika, Beresford struggles to preserve her legacy, little suspecting how much he also needs to protect his vulnerable boss.
The intrusion of the British version of the deep state into the world of brigands and bobbies brings a creepy new note to Spencer’s long-running series.