The sixth title in the popular Harpur and Iles series.
'Planner' Preston, a lifetime of successful robberies behind him, is organising a heist against a wages van, ill-guarded and with a predictable route. After hiring the necessary manpower and allowing for every contingency, Planner sets a date. Then one of his team learns that the route has lengthened and the guard has been doubled. Against his instincts, but goaded by the young recruits who think he has become timid in his old age, Planner agrees to go ahead - even though he knows the risks.
Harpur and Iles always suspect Preston is planning something and view even a visit to the dentist as cause for speculation. Now, the increase in activity surrounding Planner's associates begins to turn their detective antennae firmly in his direction.
Chance matters. So do stupidity, vanity, adultery and treachery. All are explored in this standout British thriller that traces a crime from both the cops' and robbers' angles. In the wonderfully real, amoral urban world of Detective Colin Harpur, last seen in Come Clean , blunders on both sides abound. Supercautious Ron (Planner) Preston assembles a gang for a raid on a payroll van. He considers calling the heist off after hearing a tip that the van's guard has been increased, but then a young actress in an amateur production that also includes his wife makes him feel young--and foolish--again. The police deploy an ambush team, but in the wrong place; among their members is a bent cop who moonlights as a gourmet chef specializing in veal and extortion. On the cops' team is sharpshooter Robert Cotton, with whose wife Harpur has been sleeping and whom wary Harpur thinks he has heard mutter, ``One flew over the cuckold's nest.'' The suspense builds to an explosive climax that a domineering assistant chief constable, a cuckold himself, fails to head off. This is the sixth in the series by pseudonymous James who also writes as David Craig.