The pressure’s on when retired Army major Thomas Maitland takes desperate measures to force the police to reexamine the murder conviction of his wife.
Just when he needs them the most, DCI Charlie Woodend’s crew is in tatters. His sergeant, Bob Rutter, is on leave, mourning the death of his wife Maria. His new bagman, Monika Paniatowski, is wracked with guilt over her affair with Rutter. But when Chief Constable Henry Marlowe, flanked by four bigwigs—Chief Superintendent Cunningham, local MP Cedric Townsend, Colonel Danvers of the Lancashire Fusiliers and Mr. Slater-Burns of the Home Office—tells him that Maitland, the madman holding 20 hostages in the Lancaster Cotton Credit Bank, will deal with no one but him, Woodend (The Butcher Beyond, 2005, etc.) must walk a line between placating a desperate criminal and hearing the anguish of a husband convinced that his wife is unjustly imprisoned. He rallies his troops, including young Constable Colin Beresford, now out of uniform and in the one good suit his mother made him buy. He details Paniatowski to Dunsthorpe, where builder’s merchant Clive Burroughs met his end. And he sends Beresford around Whitebridge to interview anyone who might know why successful caterer Maitland might or might not have killed Burroughs. But Maitland isn’t his only adversary, and Woodend must accelerate his cloggin’-it style to avoid a bloodbath.
Spencer expertly balances personal and professional angst in this tense, compelling tale.