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A chance sighting in a café in Amsterdam gives solicitor Rosa Epton an unwelcome shock. At a nearby table sits an ex-client who should be behind bars, having recently been sentenced to five years in prison. So what is Eddie Ruding doing in Amsterdam a few weeks later?

On her return to England, Rosa makes a few discreet enquiries, only to draw a blank. But just as she has decided to try to put the matter out of her mind, a newspaper report shocks her into action. Eddie Ruding has been found dead, his crumpled body lying at the foot of the walls of Wandsworth Prison.

Rosa, however, is not the only person on the dead man’s trail. Everyone from inquisitive journalists to MI5 appears to be taking an interest – and none so much as the dead man’s mother, a cockney matriarch with a score to settle.