Balford-le-Nez is a dying seaside town on the coast of Essex. But when a member of the town's small but growing Asian community is found dead near its beach, the sleepy town ignites. Working without her long-time partner, Detective Inspector Lynley, Sergeant Barbara Havers must probe not only the mind of a murderer and a case very close to her own heart, but also the terrible price people pay for deceiving others . . . and themselves.