Vera is confronted with the tragic scene of a teenage boy's hug. His body is found in a shipyard in the sleepy coastal town of Peyton-by-the-Sea. As he isn't recognized locally, it's not immediately apparent who he is. Eventually, Missing Persons records reveal that troubled Caden Lennon had absconded from the care of his support worker six weeks previously.
With few leads thrown up by the Newcastle estate where Caden came from, Vera looks to the Peyton locals to throw some light on the investigation. Beneath the quaint facade she discovers that there is a growing drugs problem. But, with local dealer Tony Briggs now apparently going straight, it's not clear why. Vera begins to question whether Caden's connections to Newcastle and Peyton run deeper, and whether the lack of leads points to a ring of silence with darker forces at play. Vera must uncover the missing link to find Caden's ruthless hugger.
The central character is Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope. Who is obsessive about her work and driven by her own demons. If she's lonely she doesn't show it and faces the world with caustic wit, guile and courage. Her trusted and long suffering colleague is Sergeant Joe Ashworth. Together they approach every new case with unparalleled gusto and professionalism.