A visit to her local prison brings DI Vera Stanhope face to face with an old enemy: former detective superintendent, and now inmate, John Brace. Brace was convicted of corruption and involvement in the death of a gamekeeper - and Vera played a part in his downfall. Brace promises Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious wheeler-dealer, if she will look out for his daughter and grandchildren. He tells her that Marshall is dead, his body buried close to St Mary's Island in Whitley Bay. However, when a search team investigates, officers find not one skeleton, but two. This cold case takes Vera back in time, and very close to home, as Brace and Marshall, along with a mysterious stranger known only as `the Prof', were close friends of Hector, her father. Together, they were `the Gang of Four', and Hector had been one of the last people to see Marshall alive. Vera must confront her prejudices and unwanted memories to dig out the truth, as the past begins to collide dangerously with the present . . .