London, October 1968. As Beatles fans encamp outside Abbey Road Studios up the road, the Marylebone CID is as much an old boys' club as it ever was: comfortably sexist, racially prejudiced and crawling with corruption. Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen is the pariah of the office, having just run out on a fellow officer held at knifepoint, when it's shaken up by the arrival of WPC Helen Tozer: awkward chatterbox, farmgirl, and the first woman to enter the murder unit - apart from the secretary.
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Marylebone, November 1968. Detective Sergeant Breen has a death threat and two burned bodies on his hands. One is an un-mourned vagrant; the other the son of a politician. One case suffers the apathy of the police; the other obstructed by a PR-conscious father. Then the potential perpetrator of his death threats is murdered. Banished from a corrupt system, Breen is finally forced to fight fire with fire.
It's 1969. Five years ago, teenager Alexandra Tozer was murdered. Her sister, Helen Tozer, will never forget. Returning home after quitting the Met Police, she brings with her the recovering Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen, who slowly becomes possessed by the unsolved case. But Breen is on a trail, for the two men connected to this case met in Kenya, during the Mau Mau uprising; and the history that Britain has turned its face from is now returning to haunt it.
She made a profit from her youth. She's not beautiful anymore - but she will be young forever. Called away from his pregnant girlfriend, Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen knows the sight of the murdered prostitute will be with him all his life. But this is what he does: he finds killers. Helen Tozer, more than most, understands why.