Alan Scobie and Karen Hartson are found shot dead in a hotel bedroom and the police have no idea who the principal victim was meant to be. DI Alembic focuses on Scobie, who worked as a driver for a major underworld figure and had agreed to provide evidence against him. DS Stone on the other hand focuses on Karen and her relationships. He is guided by a roman a clef she had written where the various characters were clearly drawn from her office colleagues. Stone becomes infatuated with the dead girl and his quest becomes a personal crusade to save her reputation, raising eyes among his colleagues.