A third chapter in the life of Edinburgh's hormone-driven Detective Chief Inspector David Fyfe, here involved with the murder of respectable, church-going widow Zena McElhose. Zena's been found dead on her kitchen floor, apparently killed by the mallet still clutched in the hand of a man lying, near death, inside the front door, his own head encased in a balaclava helmet. The old woman's body was discovered by her tenant Marianne Dunne, now living in a small house behind Zena's with her burly common-law husband Sandy Ramensky and their three-year-old daughter Lorna, who is dying of leukemia. The man in the helmet, felled by a heart attack, turns out to be a lawyer, Valentine Randolph, indulging in his favorite sport--larceny--while his longtime secretary--another nutcase--is acting out her doomed fantasies in the background. Then there's Fyfe himself, playing with fire as he tries to balance his reconciliation with ex-wife Sally, his attraction to newly met Hilary, and a rendezvous with old flame and partner-in-crime Angela, all this time trying to make sense out of Sandy Ramensky's drunken, metaphysical rantings: Is he the one guilty of Zena's murder or not? In the end, it's Chief Constable Sir Duncan who unveils the murderer in this pretentious procedural: overwritten, laden with psychobabble, and a disappointment after the author's well-received Sleeping Pretty (1996).