HULL is freezing – literally. Straddling the muddy estuary of the River Humber in northern England, this once-rich cod fishing port is experiencing its coldest winter in years.
At first it is hardly surprising that an elderly woman living alone is found dead, apparently having been unable to save herself after losing her balance in a bathful of rapidly cooling water.
Detective Sergeant Aector ‘Hector’ McAvoy quickly becomes suspicious, however. Small clues scattered around the site suggest at least one other person was present either during or immediately after former social worker Enid Chappell’s drowning.
More than 1600km to the north-west, McAvoy’s superior, Detective Superintendent Trish Pharaoh, is on the isolated, wind-ravaged Skagi Peninsula in Iceland investigating the discovery of another body: that of a journalist believed to have a tenuous connection with Hull.
Not too many decades earlier the two locations were waging an unofficial war as newly independent Iceland turned its gunships against the English trawlers that threatened to strip its territorial waters of irreplaceable fish stocks. Now Icelandic police are being pressured to co-operate with Pharaoh in a covert alliance.
With his attempts to uncover a potential motive for the murder of Chappell stagnating McAvoy finds his attention diverted by a series of gruesome attacks on elderly fishermen throughout the city – longtime crewmates who once served together on one of Hull’s most tragically infamous cod boats. Who could possibly have cause to harm feeble old men who by all accounts have been working to create a public tribute to the industry that for generations supported thousands of Hull residents?
A failed bid to uncover the identity of two corpses washed ashore in the Russian Arctic is yet another frustration for McAvoy’s colleagues at Humberside Police.
It seems progress has stalled on every front – and time is running short as powerful people demand results.