Chief Inspector Frost is teamed with Detective Sergeant "Razor" Sharpe, a temporary replacement for a sick colleague. To Frost's chagrin, not only does Sharpe believe his nickname, he is also an unrepentant chain smoker. Frost is summoned to an attempted armed-robbery at a local brewery, while Sharpe attends to a hit-and-run accident. At the brewery, the attempted robbery suspect is Leo Armfield, an old adversary of Frost's whose last arrest resulted in the police being reprimanded. Frost can barely conceal his delight, but Superintendent Mullett counsels caution. As a result of the hit-and-run, Bryony Darrow is now in intensive care. Her husband Richard and daughter Rachel have to face the fact that she'll be brain damaged. Forensic evidence confirms that Bryony's accident is not a straightforward hit-and-run. In investigating the crimes, Frost and Sharpe learn much about the seemingly peaceful village of Churcham and its inhabitants.