Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles misses a crucial conference and is not able to give vital advice to a colleague, Assistant Chief Constable Esther Davidson. She is having big trouble from a local gang known as the Guild, and proposes to put an undercover spy into the criminal outfit.
Iles might have been able to dissuade her from such a rash move. One of his own undercover officers was murdered not long ago. But Esther goes ahead, with terrible consequences . . .
'James continues to produce the most realistic, unsettling sequence of novels, recording the subtle relationships between police and villains' The Times
Asst. Chief Constable Esther Davidson takes center stage in James's thoughtful, somewhat dry 25th Harpur & Iles mystery (after 2009's Pix). Frustrated by the failure of an extensive investigation into the affairs of a criminal gang disguised as the legal Cormax Turton Guild, Davidson decides that the only way to get the goods is to infiltrate the organization by a process known as "out-location." Such complex details as choosing a police officer to go undercover, maintaining contact, and keeping a rescue team on standby alternate with scenes from a trial involving the murder of a policeman who went undercover at Cormax Turton. Asst. Chief Constable Desmond Iles, who had his own unfortunate experience with out-location in Halo Parade, serves as observer, supporter, commentator. The ethical, legal, and practical considerations of out-location get both theoretical and actual treatment with the life-or-death outcome riding on the slimmest of chances.