When Dialogues submitted to a local literary competition claim responsibility for three deaths, Dalziel and Pascoe find themselves embroiled in a deadly duel of wits against a sociopathic killer known only as the Wordman.
Normally, there would be nothing sinister about a death by drowning and a motorcycle fatality -- had these tragic occurrences not been predicted before the fact in a pair of macabre "Dialogues" submitted to a Yorkshire short story competition. Yet the local police department is slow to act -- until the arrival of a third Dialogue ... and another corpse. A darkness is settling over a terrorized community, brought on by a genius fiend who hides clues to his horrific acts in complex riddles and brilliant wordplay. Now two seasoned CID investigators, Peter Pascoe and "Fat Andy" Dalziel, are racing against a clock whose every tick signals more blood and outrage, caught in the twisted game of a diabolical killer who is turning their jurisdiction into a slaughterhouse.