It was published in 2000 and is the third book featuring Brookmyre's recurring character journalist Jack Parlabane.
Who is, as of the start of the book, having a miserable time: He's estranged from his wife due to an alcohol induced indiscretion on her part - him finding out about it by way of malicious tabloid mudslinging didn't help matters - and he's in prison, his erhmm...unorthodox investigative methods having finally caught up with him. And as Parlabane is about to discover, prison might not be the best place to be if your previous efforts have secured other, and not very nice, people's lengthy stay in the same facility.
Meanwhile, out in the free world, scandals on the political scene have presented the Roman Catholic church with the opportunity to cast itself in the role of the the guardian of morality, an opportunity it exploits fully. Power struggles, face-saving maneuvers and dirty tricks played by priests, politicians and those mightiest of modern creatures, the public relations people, ensue.
This book provides examples of:
- The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Subverted. Mike's in prison for a drug-related crime, but he's not aggressive in any sense.
- Ass Shove: Politician and very much public person Peter finds himself in an extremely uncomfortable and career wise potentially disastrous situation due to a mishap with a vibrator.
- The Casanova: Handsome, successful Labour politician Peter, who's dating a seemingly neverending line of female celebrities. Subverted in that they're his cover. Peter's gay but has remained closeted for the sake of his career, and he's in a completely monogamous relationship with long-term boyfriend Ted.
- Improvised Weapon: A sharpened steel ruler.
- Large and in Charge: Parlabane's eventual cell mate, Mike. Not in charge of a gang or anything, but so cool - and big - that nobody messes with him.
- Prison Rape: It's mentioned that Parlabane's archenemy in prison has been subjected to this twice. Parlabane himself narrowly escapes suffering the same fate at the hands of said enemy.
- Talkative Loon: Parlabane's first cell mate is a junkie who just will not shut up. Fooaltiye!
- What Are You in For?: His fellow prisoners are unimpressed with Parlabane's petty crime - breaking and entering - and short sentence. "Could dae it standin' on me heid!"