Balford-le-Nez is a dying seaside town on the coast of Essex. But when a member of the town’s small but growing Asian community is found murdered near its beach, the sleepy town ignites. Intrigued by the involvement of her London neighbor—Taymullah Azhar—in what appears to be a growing racial conflagration, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers arranges to have herself assigned to the investigation. Setting out on her own, this is one case Havers will have to solve without her longtime partner, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley—and it’s one of the toughest she’s ever encountered. For Havers must probe not only the mind of a murderer and her emotional response to a case unsettlingly close to her own heart, but also the terrible price people pay for deceiving others . . . and themselves.