In the eyes of solicitor Eric Ward, there was something odd about Arthur Egan's life and death. Egan's estate comprised a large sum, to go to an heir no one knew he had. Egan had served a term for manslaughter committed during an armed robbery on Lord Morcomb's estate. Indications were that the evidence against him had been planted. The present Lord Morcomb was facing heavy death duties, and Ward's firm had to advise how these could be handled.
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The arrival of Malaysian businessman Simon Chan in the north-east brings the prospect of business for Morcomb Estates and an assignment for solicitor Eric Ward: find the missing executive Harry Staughton. At the same time, the merchant bank on whose board he reluctantly sits asks him to investigate an aggressive takeover bid against their clients, Artaros SA. Neither task is clear cut.