Detective Sergeant Jimmy Suttle works in the Devon and Cornwall police. He is called to a murder scene - the victim is sitting at the wheel of his car on a lonely moorland road, shot in the head. Jimmy has personal problems since his wife has left him and he rarely sees his young daughter Grace. He throws himself into the investigation of Michael Corrigan's death and of consequent deaths by gunshot that show similarities to the Corrigan murder.
His estranged wife, Lizzie, has returned to her previous career of journalism and is pursuing a story about Afghanistan. She feels herself to be 'within touching distance' of the big story that could make her name. Her pursuit of that story enables some excellent discussion of the British participation in the war in Afghanistan.