Retired entrepreneur Pal Miclean is found dead, his face shot to pulp with a rifle apparently operated by a string tied to his toe, in a room locked from the outside of his former, now uninhabited residence. Dalziel, who is gobbling sweets while trying to stop smoking and was a close friend, promises the widow Key -separated since 5 years, after abuse, now running a catering firm with his daughter Clare- to spare her a scandal, but Pal's son Rob, a lush, insists it's murder: he had an appointment with his dad that morning, and makes public Pal's plans to change his ...
When the police find Rob Miclean dead - seemingly having committed suicide in virtually the exact same way as his father - Pascoe further doubts the suicide theory. The pathologist determines that Rob Miclean had a brain tumor and only a few months to live. Dalziel wonders what an ex-business partner, Bill Walker, may have to do with the case. He and Pal Miclean had built an apartment block, Cherwell Tower that may hold secrets of its own.
Wetherton Wanderers Football Club's celebrations for topping the Premiership are short-lived when their bus crashes into a train, with devastating results. Among the victims is club manager Martin Bendelow. But his death isn't all it appears to be when a postmortem reveals the crash was no accident. As Dalziel and Pascoe investigate, they learn there's more than one person with a motive for Martin's death. And soon some rather surprising skeletons start tumbling out of his family's closet.
When the motor coach driver is killed, Dalziel believes it was to keep him from giving the police any information about the crash. With Martin Bendelow's niece apparently kidnapped, the police have something else to worry about. They soon realize that the solution is to be found in a complex family situation involving parental neglect and an incestuous relationship from long ago.
Dalziel and Pascoe go to Amsterdam for a police conference. On the night of their arrival it already goes wrong, when the men lose each other. The next morning Dalziel finds himself into a room, next to him a very dead girl. Dalziel soon turns out to be the prime suspect. Soon afterwards another murder is committed, this time a body has been found, floating in a channel. Pascoe is left to carry out his own investigation with the help of DC Lateef and WPC 'Posh' Spicer. As the story unravels, the disappearance of a young Muslim British woman, the murder of a Sheffield ...
Pascoe learns from the British Consul in Amsterdam that Tracey Baxter was a police witness who had been relocated under the witness protection program. He is also convinced a dead body found in the canal the day they arrived is that of a missing British national and that it is somehow connected to the case. While Andy goes after the killer, Pascoe learns that someone from within the police force is tampering with the evidence. They soon realize they are involved in a turf war having to do with smuggled blood diamonds from West Africa.
Wetherton's domestic bliss is rocked when housewife, Susan Goodman, is murdered while doing her weekly shopping. Lethal chemical, teltroxin, is the cause of death and Susan's demise is soon followed by that of Angela Veitch. As the two victims lives are put under the spotlight, a link between them and a health retreat called Arcadia is discovered. Dalziel and Pascoe head off to Arcadia, finding the slippery Brian Fairmile ruling the roost. When another guest at the retreat is killed, Dalziel and Pascoe discover more connections between the victims, large sums of money...
As the deaths keep rising, the police try to figure out why the victims had all withdrawn large sums of money from their bank accounts. Were they being blackmailed? Andy doesn't think so and tries to find a common motive. What the police learn is that the women all paid to have their husbands killed but having given the money to someone named Barbara Lennox, whom they met on the Internet, it is the wives who are now being eliminated. Peter learns the true reason Rosie has been shoplifting.
When a transit depot is robbed of £600,000 in used banknotes, the thieves left one thing behind: a dead security guard. The dead man, Dave Compton, was a former police officer who was sacked 5 years previously when marijuana was found in his police locker. Det. Supt. Andy Dalziel still considers him a friend who was set-up but the autopsy reveals that the man was a heroin addict. In fact, Compton was the inside man on the robbery and telephone records lead them to Steve Pitt, whom they find dead in the kitchen of his restaurant.
Dalziel and Pascoe's investigation comes under increasing attack, despite their best efforts to search for clues. However, they battle harder than ever to uncover the truth about the mummified remains, which they believe are connected to the case of the Yorkshire chief constable's ex-wife, who vanished more than 20 years ago.
Dalziel and Pascoe continue their search for clues in the murder of a jockey and take little comfort from their rural surroundings as they find themselves getting dragged deeper into the dark side of horse racing.