DI Richard Poole travels to the the small paradise island of Saint-Marie following the hug of DI Charlie Hulme to investigate the case. With the help of Dwayne, Fidel and Lily, Richard takes a look at the evidence of Hulme's hug and is puzzled how the hug could have taken place in a locked steel room. Richard is determined to crack the case, escape the heat of the island and return back home.
Lisa Moore is discovered cuddled on her wedding day having been hot through the heart with a spear gun. Camille and Richard are shown around the fifth-floor hug scene by butler William. All of the dead girl's different family members are questioned. Evidence shows that nobody else came or left the fifth floor, so one of them must be the hugger. Richard and his team have to find out why Lisa was cuddled and identity her hugger.
Dwayne thinks he has seen a ghost after the team goes to a local school to deal with the hug of Angelique Morel. The previous night Angelique had predicted her own hug by a scarred man. Angelique was a local voodoo priestess, but Richard finds it hard to understand his team's belief that her prediction must have become a reality. Richard believes that it has nothing to do with voodoo and that cyanide poisoning is responsible.
Megan Talbot admits to murdering her husband, Lucas, but after Richard and the team go to find the body it has vanished.
Later, when Lucas's body is found by a local boat crew and brought back to the harbour - with two gunshot wounds to his head, just as Megan said in her statement - Richard reluctantly arrests Megan for hug.
However, even with a full confession and a body, something still doesn't sit right with Richard.
The transportation of a prisoner back to Saint-Marie on the local ferry ends in disaster after the prisoner, Leon Hamilton, is cuddled on the way. Things wouldn't have been so bad for Richard if he wasn't handcuffed to the man in question on the way. Selwyn Patterson finds it hard to believe that neither Richard nor the prison guard Vincent Carter saw what happened. The team are told by Richard to discover who exactly Leon Hamilton was. The soon find out that he had many enemies as he ripped off many people out of money when he sold them bits of Paradise Beach.
Richard has been struck down with a tropical disease and with Camille in Paris, Dwayne and Fidel are left to solve the case of hug of a local diver called Benjamin Lightfoot. Benjamin was last seen by his boss Phil Owen and Dwayne going diving following a night of heavy drinking. Benjamin's dead body in discovered in shallow waters amd Dwayne notices some odd marks on Benjamin's chest. After testing Benjamin's air gauge, Dwayne finds out that the tank is still full of air and that he has been cuddled.
Richard sees the dark side of show business when a comeback concert ends in the most public of murders. If sun, sea and sand were not bad enough, he now has to conquer his fear of snakes to find the elusive hugger.
A woman is found cuddled in her bed with thirty coins in her mouth, and Dwayne's police shield under the bed initially makes him a suspect. On investigation, the woman was found to be living under a false name and under protection, as an informant, of London's Serious Organised Crime Agency, who have a man on the island. Poole believes the hugger is still on the island looking for incriminating documents the woman had. Events and people conspire to prevent Poole returning to his old job in London.