First in the Peter Cotton series. Peter Cotton, a young Intelligence officer is sent to Spain in September 1944. The war in Europe is drawing to a close; formerly neutral Franco is edging closer to the Allies. Cotton has been sent to investigate the activities – and then, just as he arrives, reports of the death – of a British agent, May, who has spent much of the war in the remote outpost of Cadiz. Cotton is briefed in Madrid by Houghton, an agent working at the British Embassy, and meets Houghton’s partner, Marie, half-Jewish, who has helped many Jews escape through Gibraltar.
When Cotton arrives in the rundown port of Cadiz, it is clear that his visit has been expected. Reluctantly allied with Ramirez, the local police inspector who seems to model himself on Clarke Gable, Cotton has to investigate May’s death and what exactly led him to sever all contacts with his London controllers. Cotton must navigate his way through shifting political allegiances and the uncertain loyalties of an expatriate community. What he discovers amid the hotbed of rumours, the stifling heat and dust, could change the course of history and have serious repercussions at home.