She was going to die. She could feel it, her life ebbing away as surely as fine sand through fingers. The thought caused her more sadness than fear; less a sense of foreboding than a cause to wonder what lay ahead. France, 1963. It's a time of great change in France, not least for Inspector Lucas Rocco. Taken out of his home base of Clichy, Paris, as part of a nationwide 'initiative' to broaden police operations, he finds himself in the village of Poissons-Les-Marais, Picardie - and answerable to his former army CO now police Commissaire Francois Massin, last seen by Rocco cowering in a foxhole in Indochina. His new patch might be rural, but it's certainly not uneventful. To begin with, he finds that hitting unexploded wartime ordnance with a hammer to harvest the metal for resale is something of a cottage industry. And when, on his first day, he finds a murdered woman wearing a Gestapo uniform lying in a British military cemetery, he knows life will be far from boring.When the body is removed by order of a magistrate from the police mortuary before Rocco can finish his investigation, he traces the paperwork to the dead woman's father, war hero and big-time industrialist Philippe Bayer-Berbier. Yet Berbier denies that his daughter is dead. Following an attempt on one villager's life and the disappearance of another, Rocco uncovers a series of connections with Berbier and his activities in the SOE and the wartime Resistance. In spite of an official wall of bureaucracy and a strained relationship with Massin, he sets out to uncover what has led to the woman's death - and why Berbier will go to any lengths - even murder - to stop his investigation.