"No such thing as dead and buried in Shillingham. No such thing. No such luck." So laments the drunken voice of truth in Laws's supernatural chiller, set in the nearly idyllic Scottish countryside. Protagonist Michael Lambton is fleeing personal demons that still give him nightmares; a writer of psychological thrillers, he has purchased an estate in the country with hopes of a fresh start and a chance to break his writer's block. He meets and quickly falls in love with young waitress Christy, the only person in town who doesn't instinctively distrust him. Christy's father, though, is considered the town madman.
When the city council decides to raze a gallows pole in the town center to make way for new construction, he goes berserk, brandishing a shotgun against the oncoming bulldozers. As it turns out, there's a motive to his madness: buried beneath the gallows is a centuries-old evil, one that will come to life if the pole is removed. Inevitably, it does, with gory results. Laws successfully creates an ominous, claustrophobic small-town feel but then largely ignores it in favor of brutal action. Less satisfying than his previous book, Darkfall, which fully used its insular setting to keep readers guessing, this is a straightforward, but atmospheric, horror yarn.