DCI Vanessa Fiske of the Scottish Police joins a secret team to bring to justice James Michael Roskill, a former prime minister of the UK. She failed to arrest him during a previous murder investigation because he fled to Costa Rica.
Fiske has twin toddlers and lives with her partner, an oil industry lawyer, in Aber-deen.
Her colleague, DI Colin MacNee, is investigating the murder of the finance director of a charity which has received a huge anonymous donation from an American corpora-tion connected to Roskill. After the murder, the money is transferred to a charity in Central Asia where Roskill had led, with the USA, a controversial invasion some years before.
The project to bring Roskill in, Operation Flightpath, is staffed by people from UK and US intelligence agencies. Fiske’s colleagues in Aberdeen, including her closest associ-ate Colin MacNee, know she has been seconded but none of the details of a case that takes her away from her family.
For Fiske, Roskill is unfinished business. She believes she can persuade him to return. She follows Richard Seaton, a former US Secretary of State and close friend of Roskill, to Costa Rica. Information from US intelligence sources working on Flightpath con-vinces her that Seaton can be pressured into securing access to Roskill. However, be-fore he can do so, he is found murdered in a remote part of Costa Rica. The prime sus-pect, an employee of the corporation that made the charitable donation, becomes the prime suspect in the murder MacNee is investigating.
Roskill, who remains a fugitive from justice, describes himself as an émigré. He says he will meet Fiske if she can guarantee him safe passage to and from Washington DC for Seaton’s funeral.
Fiske talks to Roskill to persuade him to come back to Britain. His lawyer asks why the UK authorities want him back. To get an answer she meets the Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister’s Security Adviser. They tell her that the government wants to use Roskill as part of a foreign policy initiative in Central Asia. Roskill visits Ka-zakhstan to collect a large amount of money he has ‘sheltered’ there.
Fiske takes MacNee into her confidence about her mission. However, despite her help, and the ‘intersections’ between the two cases, MacNee fails to extradite the sus-pect to face charges relating to the murder of the charity finance director in Scotland.
Fiske confronts Roskill (who is ‘obsessive’ about the operas of Rossini) in Guatemala City after a performance of the only Rossini opera he has never seen. The psychologi-cal relationship between Fiske and Roskill becomes profound and complex. Negotia-tions continue in Costa Rica and the dramatic denouement, after Roskill absconds again, is in Panama.
Vanessa Fiske has to consider the effects of Flightpath on her career and on her per-sonal life.