When DCI Alan Banks returns from vacation, he finds the members of his team investigating a variety of crimes. Someone has stolen a farmer's valuable tractor, which by itself would probably not be the crime of the century. But other farmers in the area have also had equipment and livestock stolen, and it appears that a sophisticated gang of thieves may be operating in the area, stealing the equipment and shipping it to buyers in eastern Europe.
Meanwhile, other members of the team are investigating a mysterious blood stain on the floor of an abandoned airport hangar. It would appear that someone may have been murdered there and the body removed. But who was the victim and where is the body? At virtually the same time, two men are reported missing, and naturally, one of them may be the victim.
Back on the job, Banks takes the leading role in all of these cases, assigning his team members and supervising their work. All of the cases are immediately complicated when a delivery van plunges off a mountain pass in inclement weather. The van is carrying the carcases of animals that have died on local farms, have been packaged up, and have then been collected to be delivered to the disposal site where they will be incinerated. The packages are now scattered all over the landscape around the wreck, and investigators are shocked to discover that not all of the bodies packaged for incineration were those of lambs or pigs.
This is one of Banks's more interesting cases and the supporting members of the cast get a lot of time on the page while Banks generally directs them. It's a clever and convoluted plot with some pretty nasty actors lurking in the background, and all in all, it's a very enjoyable read that will certainly appeal to the fans of this long-running series and to a lot of other readers as well.