When Jim Maddern - well-respected police sergeant and pillar of the local community - begins to act completely out of character, ex-Met officer John Cannon is concerned. As Cannon tries to find out what has got Maddern so spooked, he discovers that death threats have been sent to Maddern and his family via the local paper after Maddern stumbled on the paperboy's criminal lineage. Troublemakers for decades, each generation of this family has climbed the ladder of serious crime. Their intervention after a massive gold bullion raid by another gang has resulted in years of retribution on the streets of London. But it is on Lincolnshire's waterways, in the woods, the villages and above all in Cannon's own public-house, that the gangland rivalries, revenge and retribution will reach their bitter end...