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Working-class copper, Detective Inspector Joe Rafferty of the Essex Constabulary, has just been promoted. Just his luck that his first case since his promotion should turn out to be the murder of a girl with no face, no ID and found in a place she had no business being: a secure private psychiatric hospital. Add in Dr Anthony Melville-Briggs, the hospital's owner, who thinks, where friends in high places fails to secure his desires, that money will do the trick, and Rafferty's new partner, the more moral than the Pope, intellectual Welshman, and Rafferty knows he has his work cut out. He could really do without his Ma's little problem: a cousin in jail, whose release Rafferty was somehow supposed to secure. All in all, he find his promoted status, for which he'd worked so hard, isn't all he thought it would be.