A stifling heatwave. A savagely mutilated corpse. Everything that newly promoted Detective Chief Inspector Blanche Hampton uncovers tells her that the victim's past as a spy has something to do with the murder. But the security services warn her off and order her to look elsewhere for the killer. Soon Blanche's enquiry spirals from a murder investigation into a political conspiracy, reaching from the past to put a choking grip upon the present.