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When Detective Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh takes a well-deserved break, in his newly inherited cottage on the Norfolk Coast, relaxation is the last thing he can expect.
He becomes involved in the hunt for a serial killer, known as the Whistler, who is terrorising the small community of Larksoken. In the course of 15 months the killer has claimed four victims and created a climate of mounting fear, with each murder seeming that much closer to home.
When Dalgliesh discovers the body of a woman by the sea, it looks like the Whistler has claimed yet another life. But how could this be, when the killer's own body was found earlier that night along with a suicide note?
In the shadow of the massive nuclear power station which dominates the bleak landscape, passions and hatreds are surfacing under the strain of fear. And if the Whistler isn't responsible for the latest killing, there must be other enemies lurking within the community.