Two hired men came from the north, their victory to try;
and they did make a solemn vow, John Barleycorn should die.
Men In Black are real. They are not the hip agents of Hollywood films. No one knows who they work for; many believe they are agents of a national government; others that they are an alien police force walking amongst us on earth. Whoever they are, they are never far away from DCI Winwood.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Winwood is asked to come out of retirement by MI5 to find one of their agents who has gone missing from the small English market town of Rutherford.
He has no photo or even a name to help locate the agent. Trusting his instinct, he follows up a report of a car crash where the vehicle and driver have been incinerated beyond identification. Circumstantial evidence points to the driver being Roger Chapman, the Overseas Marketing Executive for Redbourne Brewery. One further clue is that his photograph in the company’s brochure matches the description given by the Fleetwood Arms Hotel night porter from where he was arrested by the local police.
When searching Chapman’s home address Winwood has his first contact with one of the mysterious Men In Black. The man with no name or identification appears to be responsible to no one; he says little other that make demands of Winwood which completely unsettles the worldly-wise senior detective.
Emma Porter once Winwood’s sergeant and now an Inspector in the Fraud Squad returns to Rutherford and seeks out Winwood to investigate claims of a property scam reported by a Chinese businessman.
Winwood is convinced that Chapman was being chased by both the Government and the Chinese over the embarrassment that would be caused if the fraud was exposed. At every turn he is met by obfuscation and blind alleys orchestrated by the secret service.
Winwood is handed confidential documents by Dr Rose Collins confirming her own contact with one of the Men In Black. A transcript of a taped interview records Roger Chapman’s experiences under regression hypnosis in which he claims he had been abducted by aliens and returned to earth.
There are few people Winwood can trust apart from Emma; only the newspaper editor, the antiquarian bookseller, and the local vicar. When he pulls all the evidence together Winwood finally discovers who and what the local Underground represent and the terrible secret that they and the secret service are hiding.
Some incidents in this book were researched from real accounts but names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Parts of this book featured in a previous edition which has since been deleted.