It's 1969, one year on from the harrowing shootings at Durham Cathedral that nearly claimed both Gently's and Bacchus's lives. Having pushed himself to full fitness, Gently has returned to duty while Bacchus is still recovering in a police convalescent home. Shocked to receive his sergeant's resignation, Gently insists Bacchus works his one month's notice. He then sets about trying to change Bacchus's mind and help him overcome the barriers, both real and imagined.
Following a death in custody, Gently resolves to find the man's identity and uncover the mystery of his existence. With a police officer in hospital, Gently's investigation is surrounded by anger, hatred, violence and fear. In a time when police officers' roles and attitudes towards them are rapidly changing, Gently struggles to gain the trust of either the public or the other police officers.
Amidst colourful social change, Gently investigates a murder at the Bluebird Holiday Camp, unveiling a seedy undercurrent within the more permissive of society; he is forced to dig deep within himself when entering the cloak and dagger world of military clinical trials, facing strong ethical questions; he also explores how the closure of the collieries can rip apart tight knit communities when a mysterious death in the mine leads to infighting and betrayal.
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