Beset by spies both official and unofficial, DCI Monika Paniatowski (The Dead Hand of History, 2009, etc.) investigates a series of murders as shocking as they are deliberate.
Whoever killed Andy Adair went to great lengths to set the stage, first slitting his throat, then draping his corpse over a crate, and finally posing the unclothed body, now stiff with rigor mortis, on hands and knees in the woods to be found by habitual dog-walker Harold Toynbee. Why the killer went to such trouble is up to Monika to find out, with only the help of DI Colin Beresford and still-wet-behind-the-ears DC Jack Crane. So Chief Constable Baxter details DS Paul Cousins, fresh off psychiatric leave, to her team. DS Walker, her previous bagman, has been promoted, although his rise in rank does nothing to stop his determination to undermine Monika. So he secretly teams with Mike Traynor of the Lancashire Evening Chronicle to keep tabs on Monika’s progress in hope of tripping her up. But the two amateur spies have nothing on sinister, silver-haired Mr. Forsyth, who comes all the way from London to tell Monika to watch her step. The entry of the secret service into her case rattles Monika but also motivates her. As she redoubles her efforts, so does the killer, littering the Lancashire landscape with naked corpses and sending a message only the new DCI can decode.
Paniatowski continues to prove herself a worthy successor to Charlie Woodend as Spencer delivers another first-rate whodunit.