The sudden death of Guy Brouard after his morning swim shocks the residents of Guernsey. A generous patron and benefactor of the island since his arrival there a decade ago, his demise puts a question mark over many cherished projects. When a young American woman is charged with the murder, her brother seeks help from the only contact he has in the UK - Deborah St James. Deborah is horrified to find that her old friend has been arrested and persuades her husband Simon to accompany her to Guernsey to avert this miscarriage of justice. There they find a tangled web of deceit and betrayal, with its origins in wartime occupation. In solving the crime, they must rely on their long-standing friendship with Inspector Lynley; they must also learn painful lessons about loyalty and trust, and the loving tyranny of family ties.