Burke's father Andrew dies, supposedly of liver failure though the actual cause turns out to be more sinister. When another member of Andrew's pensioners' club also dies, coincidence seems unlikely, particularly as a twenty thousand pound savings plan is involved. Burke has to keep in check his less than fraternal relationship with his brother John whilst having to consider various helpers at the club as being likely murderers and discern the motive.
A young lad is murdered and mutilated on a Scottish tourist island and the local vicar, who knows all the inhabitants, tells Robbie and Jackie, who are investigating,that he is a stranger. At first a ritual killing is suspected until a South American connection is established and it becomes clear that the island is being used for drug smuggling. A stranger claiming to be a reporter arrives just as a fisherman goes missing and is later found dead. The problem for the visitors is to establish who are the good guys and who are the bad.
Burke meets up with Kathy, the woman who jilted him years earlier, now seeing ambitious politician Frank Morgan, whom she believes is being threatened by shady businessman Robert Shearer. Burke discovers that Shearer runs a brothel which he visits, undercover, but when it gets raided he is seen on CCTV, the excuse his pushy female superior wants to have him put out to grass as a dinosaur. Three murders are also linked to Shearer but the team find out that Morgan is less innocent than he appears. Could Kathy be using Burke to help him settle an old score with Shearer?
College principal Simon Nimmo is crushed to death in a lift shaft by a lift whose mechanism had been tampered with. Suspicion falls on his wife and on his daughter's boyfriend Brian Meehan until Robbie discovers that Ross's deputy had experience of building maintenance and could have rigged the lift. Stuart, following the death of his adoptive mother, tracks down his birth mother via the adoption agency. The meeting is not a happy one, any more than his confrontation with the killer - by the lift.
Private eye Andrew McHendry is murdered having phoned Alex Sternwood to say he has found his wayward daughter Stella, who has disappeared from home. Not long afterwards Stella's corpse is also found. Chief suspect is her brother-in-law, whose child she was carrying and Eddie the stable boy, who carried a torch for her ,is another likely candidate. Meanwhile Jackie sticks her neck out on behalf of the dead man's girlfriend and her rights to his baby son.
Emily Patrick, founder of the Safer campaign against domestic violence is murdered, having threatened to name and shame several wife-beaters. One of them, Kevin Nash, brings charges against Robbie for beating him up after he has assaulted his wife. Another visits Emily's meeting under an assumed name and his failure to recognise her throws suspicion on her co-worker.
A young woman is found dead in a bath full of water. She's been dead a week. A sister she's fallen out with, a neighbour who's had enough of her and many lies disguising her actual lifestyle. Who killed her?
A building site security guard and a hotel housekeeper are both shot within a period of twenty-four hours. Both were Polish. When Anglo-Polish lawyer Paula Socacz, who runs the Kaczynski social club, is on a local radio phone-in show, a sinister caller owns to being the killer, with a racial motive. However, the discovery that the victims were cousins points towards a more personal reason for their deaths.
When a disused coal pit is excavated to re-open as a mining museum, two corpses are found, belonging to a young married couple who disappeared twenty-four years earlier, seemingly to escape rent arrears, though none of the neighbours are forthcoming and Jackie, who grew up in the area, is angry with them. More deaths occur before a secret stretching back to the days of the miners' strikes is exposed.
Bookshop owner Derek McGrath is found dead in his car, an apparent suicide, which is ironic because he was a volunteer counsellor at Lifeline Central, a Samaritans-type organization. Evidence suggests that he was having an affair with Rachel, another counsellor at Lifeline, behind his wife's back. Jackie, meanwhile, discovers to her horror that somebody has been using her credit card in her name, jeopardising her standing at the bank - and ultimately her life as her situation and the murder case seem to connect.