A week after Detective, Inspector Alec Stainton, fresh from A Cool Killing and Salty Waters, visits his old school to give a lecture on police procedure, he's called in again--this time when young schoolmaster Justin Hamilton is found hanged in his flat, complete with straps and hood. In typically tight-lipped British police-procedural fashion, Alec interviews students--Emma Hunt, who discovered Hamilton's body days after aborting his child; her sullen, muscular brother Andrew; surprisingly mature coed Barbara Pembroke; confused and incoherent young Daisy Wright, teachers--his old friend Ian Pargetter; repressed and envious Kenneth Campbell; prematurely aging headmaster Trevor Pilkington; and Hamilton's remote half-sister Joyce, recalled from residence in Africa. In between visits to his elderly father and disputes with officious Superintendent Oaks--who takes over as Alec's boss when a heart attack takes ripsnorting Superintendent Blackett off the case--Alec uncovers all manner of secrets and passions, including his own reluctant responsiveness to Barbara, which raises uncomfortable questions in his mind about his professional and personal identities. Neither the murder plot nor Alec's detection is striking in its ingenuity; what's notable here is the pervasive sense of meditation on youth and age, past and present. Deceptively understated and quietly effective.