DI Joe Faraday's Management Assistant, Vanessa Parry, is dead, killed in a head-on car smash. Her funeral is a bitter end to another grim week in the front line of the ongoing war against Portsmouth's surging crimewave.
A young girl falls to her death, and the shadowy figure of a young boy is caught on CCTV. DI Joe Faraday is on the case, but his investigation is hampered when resources are switched to a murder enquiry prompted by the discovery of the body of a small time crook on wasteland north of the city.
Freshly promoted to the elite Major Crimes Team, DI Joe Faraday is thrown into the deep end with the investigation into the murder of prison officer Paul Coughlin. Was the violent Coughlin killed by a recently released con he brutalised in prison?
Portsmouth's major drug dealer's time is up. For years Bazza Mackenzie has made millions selling cocaine and heroin into the streets of Portsmouth. He's laundered the money and on the surface at least is one of Hampshire's great and the good.
The discovery of a headless corpse on the rocks below the cliffs on the Isle of Wight is only the beginning of a journey for DI Joe Faraday. It's a journey which takes him right to the heart of the grim trade in human cargo from the crippled societies of the Balkans.