The colliery village of Bellingsworth is already divided over an impending strike, so the last thing it needs is a murder - but that's exactly what it gets, when a retired miner called Len Hopkins is found battered to death in his outside lavatory.
Detective Chief Inspector Monika Paniatowski, called in to track down the killer with all possible speed, finds herself working in an atmosphere as thick with suspicion and distrust as the mine is with coal dust. It's not only the investigation which is giving her headaches - the behaviour of her right-hand man, Detective Inspector Colin Bereford, is threatening to tear the team apart, and though she doesn't know it yet, a mysterious stranger has her beloved daughter, Louisa, in his sights.
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