In recent years, the career of Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks has been stalled -- and, in fact, very nearly destroyed -- by the petty animosities of his politically ambitious senior officer Chief Constable Jeremiah "Jimmy" Riddle. But when nude pictures of Riddle's runaway teenage daughter show up on a pornographic website, he turns to Banks for help.
The trail first leads Banks to London' Soho and then to Little Venice, where Emily Riddle is living with a dangerous gangster with ties to the world of rock music. At first refusing to go home, Emily later turns up at Banks's hotel, bruised and frightened and asking for his help. Soon she is back with her family in Yorkshire, and Banks's work appears to be done.
Now there are other concerns occupying Banks's time, thoughts, and conscience. A major reorganization at Eastvale Regional Headquarters has brought DS Annie Cabbot back into his life, carrying with her disturbing memories of their brief shared romance and her own painful secrets. But as they begin an investigation together into the slaying of Charlie Courage -- a low-level local felon and security guard who was executed by persons unknown for reasons unknown -- the "closed" Emily Riddle case is suddenly reopened in a most brutal and unexpected manner.
A gruesome murder occurs in a popular Eastvale club, filling the national tabloids with headlines that scream of scandal, sex, and high-level corruption. It is a cold and savage homicide that shakes Alan Banks to his very core and leads to shocking revelations that suggest the Courage affair is somehow linked to something much closer to home. And now the grim discoveries of his unfolding investigation areleading Banks in a direction he does not wish to go: into the past and private world of his most powerful enemy, Chief Constable Riddle.