Portsmouth is a city on the ropes, a poor, dirty but spirited city, with a soaring crime rate. And it is home for DI Joe Faraday. Now Emma Maloney's dad has gone missing. Faraday thinks he may have been murdered. But these days, a hunch is not enough. Faraday's squad of detectives are battling with an ever-growing caseload of a city torn by violence, poverty, drug-dealing and petty crime. Who can spare the time and resources for an investigation unsupported by hard evidence? Joe Faraday is struggling with his own demons, and finding Stuart Maloney, dead or alive, develops into a battle not simply for justice, but for sanity.