After his father dies of a heart attack, Ian Blackie finds an old box full of a bizarre assortment of papers in the attic of his parents' home. Hidden amongst the papers are some mysterious personal mementos belonging to General Alexander Ballantine, his father's old school friend, recently killed by an IRA bomb.
Ian soon realises that his father had been conducting his own investigation into Ballantine's murder, refusing to believe the IRA angle. Intrigued, Ian decides to follow the clues he has left, which leads him to the Tartan Conspiracy and a race to prevent the murder of the Queen.
The tension diminishes disappointingly as the action intensifies in Grindal's ( Over the Sea to Die ) espionage thriller. In the promising beginning, Ian Blackie goes through his father Andrew's papers after the Edinburgh man's death from a heart attack. Andrew Blackie had been troubled by the death of his friend Alexander Ballantine, a military man killed by an IRA bomb while boating off the coast of Scotland. Ian finds books advocating home-rule for Scotland, brochures for single-malt whiskly distillers and lists of names followed by cryptic initials. Teaming up with Isobel Ballantine, a romance writer who is the bomb victim's stepdaughter, Ian probes the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the two old friends. By the end, coinciding with the Queen's visit to Edinburgh, Grindal has managed to hint at plenty and resolve little. The role of Ian's father in the rise of a lunatic loyalist gang is never made clear, homosexuality is mentioned and then quietly dropped and readers are told more than they may want to know about malt whisky. Ian and Isobel manage finally to hold each other's attention, but not the reader's.