Like father like son. But heredity seems to have gone a gene too far when Pal Maciver's suicide in a locked room exactly mirrors that of his father ten years earlier. In each case accusing fingers point towards Pal's stepmother, the beautiful enigmatic Kay Kafka. But she turns out to have a formidable champion, Mid-Yorkshire's own super-heavyweight, Detective Superintendent Andrew Dalziel. DCI Peter Pascoe, nominally in charge of the investigation, finds he is constantly body-checked by his superior as he tries to disentangle the complex relationships of the Maciver family. At first these inquiries seem local and domestic. What really happened between Pal and his stepmother? And how has key witness and exotic hooker Dolores, Our Lady of Pain, contrived to disappear from the face of Mid-Yorkshire? Gradually, however, it becomes clear that the fall-out from Pal's suicide spreads far beyond Yorkshire. To London, to America. Even to Iraq. But the emotional epicentre is firmly placed here in Mid-Yorkshire where Pascoe comes to learn that for some people the heart too is a locked room, and in there it is always midnight.