More than half of Bartonshire, it seemed, had entertained murderous thoughts at some time or another about bullying farmer Bernard Bailey. Which might have explained why his property was protected by more security devices and surveillance cameras than Fort Knox.
All, sadly, to no avail.
After six months of highly publicised death threats, linked to a stubborn refusal to sell land for a new road, Bernard's bloodied corpse is discovered in his isolated farmhouse by his wife Rachel. A gruesome beginning to the working week which launches DCI Lloyd and DI Judy Hill into the most unusual murder enquiry of their careers.
For as the initial evidence is sifted, the question for once isn't 'Who stood to gain from the death?' but 'Why didn't they do it sooner?'
With the ever-present eye of the camera recording events, Lloyd and Hill have more evidence than they ever thought possible. But is it enough to stop a killer walking free . . . ?
The death of East Midlands farmer and landowner Bernard Bailey from booze, drugs and a dull knife leaves an excess of suspects in this meticulously detailed and lushly atmospheric addition to McGown's series starring British coppers DCI Lloyd and DC Judy Hill (Verdict Unsafe, 1997, etc.). The list includes Bailey's routinely battered second wife, Rachel, who so far had failed to produce the male heir that would bring Bailey the proceeds of a significant inheritance, and Bailey's grown daughter, Nicola, the local vet who had also felt her father's wrath. A wealthy builder, Mike McQueen, has made a handsome offer for Bailey's land and has an eye for Rachel's charms. Rachel, however, is sleeping with Curtis Law, a local TV journalist who is working on a number of stories and has an active role in a drug sting operation. The abundance of motives in Bailey's murder proves perplexing for Lloyd and Hill, who are also lovers and whose relationship is challenged during this case. McGown gives Bailey an unlikely Yorkshire accent of almost cartoonish bluntness and struggles some to make Rachel a magnet for every male in her range. Yet McGown's latest Lloyd and Hill mystery possesses a wealth of psychological nuance and narrative depth, all the way through to the resolution, a masterpiece of controlled complexity.