Alan Banks is a chief detective who gets a call one Friday morning about a suspicious fire. This turns into a possible double homicide that has him running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
When he receives the call on Friday it turns out that there were two barges and a person on each one. When they examined the barges, they found traces of turpentine, a highly flammable paint thinner, at the source of the fire. They talk to several of the witnesses, including Andrew Hurst, and Mark Siddons, who they had to chase though the woods.
Later in the day, Banks and Annie Cabbot walk down to the old lock keepers house on the side of the canal and talk to Andrew Hurst. He is a slightly creepy guy who has an insane collection of records. He is instantly a suspect when he has dirty laundry all over the place, yet managed to wash his clothes as soon as he gets home and even hade time to wash his coat. Andrew’s story basically had holes you could drive a car though.
When Banks interviewed Mark Siddons, one of the “squatters” on the barges, or as Andrew so rudely pointed out, narrow boats, he quickly learned that Mark was scared, ashamed, and felt guilty. His girl friend, Tina Aspern, was one of those barges that caught on fire. Banks learned that Tina was abused by her step father and was addicted to drugs to cope with the humiliation and pain of her past. Banks was suspicious of Mark at fist but that didn’t last long when the investigated his alibi.
Mark wasn’t with Tina most of the night, he helped her get her fix, and got her settled in the sleeping bag but then left. He went to a girl’s house who he met at the pub, which he proceeded to spend most of the night. Mark couldn’t help but feel guilty when he was having an affair with a virtual stranger, leaving his true love back on the barge, so she could be burned alive.
After uncovering the whereabouts of Tina’s parents, banks drove over to their house to tell them of their loss and to see if the...