Hardworking Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton has been instructed to take it easy, and is therefore assigned a supposedly laid-back assignment - to guard the American Vice-President Caleb Hartley on a visit to the UK.
However, the task turns out to be anything but straightforward.
The Vice-President believes he has British ancestors and wants to track down his family history.
Pemberton is one step ahead of him, and decides to delve into his ancestry prior to his arrival. What he discovers threatens to shake the family history to the core: the unsolved murder of Private James Hartley in 1916.
At the time, there hadn't been a detailed murder investigation, and initial suspicions had put the death down to a suicide. But the detective soon realises that this was not a suicide dressed up to look like a murder, but that beyond all doubt, it was murder.
The plot thickens as the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death come to light. James Hartley was about to join the war effort in France the night he was shot dead with a bullet to his brain.
Pemberton becomes increasingly convinced that Hartley was lured to his death, and that others within the family helped to conceal the truth about what happened that fateful night.
He refuses to let old ghosts be put to rest, and begins to dig up past clues that could help piece together the gruesome story.
Who would want to murder this hard-working, well-loved private? And is it too late to uncover the truth of a dark family secret that has remained concealed for decades?