Shortly after a dangerous local criminal leader has been convicted on his evidence, Peter Diamond’s life is turned upside down when his beloved wife of twenty years is shot twice in the head in a park. Diamond’s boss in the Bath Criminal Investigation Department warns him to stay away from the case to prevent prejudicing the evidence, but he cannot rest until his wife’s murderer is found, especially after he becomes a suspect himself.
Following initial suspicion of the family and friends of the recently convicted crime boss, the investigation turns to other criminals Diamond has sent to jail as well as to his wife’s first husband, a down-on-his luck chef. When another policeman’s wife goes missing and is later found dead, the case’s scope broadens.
Intermingled with Diamond’s story is an elaborate plot by a group of Arabs in London to steal diamonds. How the two plots merge is typical of Peter Lovesey’s enthralling storytelling. Whenever the reader seems certain where the novel is headed, Lovesey offers an unexpected turn. His characters are colorful and engaging, especially Harry Tattersall, a con man at the center of the diamond scheme, and the grumpy, hot-headed hero, who appears in six earlier novels. Lovesey’s depiction of the jealousies, suspicions, resentments, and undercutting among the police recalls John le Carre’s treatment of the world of British espionage.