A sunny evening, a tranquil garden—and an old man brutally gunned down on his doorstep.
In a pretty and tranquil town, a proposed superstore development has divided the population in an increasingly bitter war. The low-level aggression of bored youth that is generally tolerated has become sinister. The bloodied carcass of a sheep abandoned in the streets is more than just unpleasant vandalism, and teenage bikers, terrorizing a woman to the breaking point, are impossible to control.
When a second victim is killed in what seems like a random shooting, the fear in the town becomes palpable. Detective Fleming will not accept that the crimes are motiveless, but she struggles to make sense of the two murders when nothing makes sense anymore and no one will believe anything. Not even the truth.
The fourth in Templeton's series to feature Scottish Det. Insp. Marjory Fleming (Cold in the Earth, etc.) finds Fleming's quiet community of Kirkluce divided by a plan to open a superstore that threatens local trade. Soon after Col. Andrew Carmichael, the owner of property essential to the developer's proposal, receives a fatal shotgun blast to the chest, someone shoots young rowdy Barney Kyle in the back as he's riding his bike. While the motive for killing Kyle appears different, Fleming and her team find some suggestive links between the two victims. Templeton does a nice job of conveying the details of smalltown life, though her characters and their motivations are less well developed than those of such better-known writers as Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters. Toward the end, the author throws in enough twists to distinguish this from many similar contemporary British police procedurals.