The body of a reclusive artist is found on a stretch of waste land between the bypass and the Crickle Wood Housing Estate in the small English town of Rutherford.
There are few clues as to how he died or how he got there. The investigation is given a boost because the deceased was due to meet John Cherry, the owner of an antiquarian bookshop the previous day. The trail leads to the man's home and to his ex-wife. Neither help.
Tony Meehan reporter on the Rutherford Echo, has been given a story on corruption to investigate by Councillor Bob Ball. His enquiries lead him to the waste land and he develops a relationship with the local doctor who is subject of a smear campaign
Winwood and Meehan continue their separate investigations but their paths begin to overlap. There are opposing sides in everything from the application for a wind farm to be built on open fields, a new housing development on a heritage site and the loss of traditional retail units throughout the town.
The battleground for the soul of the town is the Green Man public house central to plans by an unscrupulous developer who hopes to get the Leader of the Council and the Head of Planning to back him by a combination of bribery and blackmail.
Winwood gets plunged into a scenario of murder, dirty tricks and Council corruption. He has to be clear which side everyone is on and what part those in the Underground play in it. First he has to establish who the good guys of the Underground are and separate those from the darker side. Help comes from many sources, not least from John Cherry who isn't quite the bookish shopkeeper he appears to be.
An entertaining combination sci-fi murder mystery with fast-paced plotting, good atmosphere and credible characterisation. Looking forward to others in this series.
by Carl on December 22, 2013