D.I. Charlie Priest of the East Pennine force is officially on sick leave, but this brief break from work comes to an abrupt end when Mrs Norris's chauffeur is found dead from unnatural causes – namely a blast to the head from a Kalashnikov. Her husband, an American tobacco tycoon, is distinctly unfazed. Meanwhile, big-time drug smugglers on the Hull to Rotterdam run demand his attention. When Charlie discovers the connection between his previous inquiry and the drug smugglers he realises that he's on very dangerous territory indeed.