When a four-year-old child is abducted from an Essex kindergarten, Detective Inspector Dog Cicero soon realizes that this is to be no routine investigation. Something about the child's mother troubles him. Maybe it's just the fact that she comes from Derry, and Cicero's Northern Ireland scars go deeper than his ruined face. But he feels there's more to it than that.
Why, for instance, is Superintendent Toby Tench leaving his devious Special Branch footprints all over Cicero's Romchurch patch? And why does he want the courts to release Jane Maguire on bail after she makes an incriminating confession?
Tench plays his cards close to his chest, and Cicero finds the odds are stacked against him both personally and professionally -- not that he will let that stop him. For Dog's a gambling man, and when death's the only game in town, a gambling man has got to play.