It is a puzzle that has faced Scotland Yard from the beginning - whose was the limbless body found among the foundations? And in the murderous world of Sholto Lestrade, one question is invariably followed by another - what do a lecherous rector, a devious speculator and a plagiarist novelist all have in common? Answer: they're all dead - each of them with a bloody space where his head used to be. And six others are to join them before our intrepid inspector brings the perpetrator to book. Lestrade braves haunted houses, machine-gun bullets and two Home Secretaries in his headlong hunt for the truth.