Lucy and Tom Fleming find themselves investigating several corpses. Apart from the man found in the river, the police find a homeless man in the compactor of a refuse lorry. It seems that the man was sleeping in a bin, and the dustmen threw him into the lorry. Lucy and Tom find out that he was a Pole called Kamil Krawiez, who hung out with a group of homeless drunkards. The doctors who perform the post-mortem find that Kamil showed signs that he had been beaten to a pulp, and he was probably left in the bin, so with all probably he was already dead.
The crematorium people talk to Lucy and they tell her that the man that they thought was Stuart Carlisle was cremated, they found surgical pins and metal plates. Lucy arranges for those to be sent to her. When she receives the parcel in the hospital, the doctors who examined Kamil are there, and they have a look at the metal plates and pins, and Caroline O’Kane, one of the doctors, think that the man who these pieces belonged to was murdered as the brain plate has a mark that must have been made by an axe or a hatchet. Lucy and Tom as well as the doctors think that someone wanted to get rid of this body, and somehow they changed the bodies, and threw Carlisle’s into the river. Unfortunately for the perpetrator(s), Carlisle’s body came to the surface of the river and was discovered.
There is another person who is missing. Terry Haynes, an ex-alcoholic, who is friends with Tom Fleming, hasn’t been seen in days. I wonder if the man who was cremated is this man or someone else.
Then Lucy gets involved in something else. A sixty-year-old woman, Doreen Jeffries, calls and asks for her especially to report the burglary of her house. Lucy knows Doreen through Robbie, her boyfriend. Are they still together in this book? Robbie had a programme for teenagers in trouble, and Doreen was in charge of a charity shop. One of these teenagers was Helen Dexter, who through Robbie’s programme helped in the shop. Then Helen was accused of stealing some clothes, and the girl finally admitted to having taken the clothes for her sister as her mother spent the little money she got on booze. In the end, the owner of the shop dropped charges on condition that Helen paid for the clothes. The girl eventually did and even had money to buy her sister’s uniform. Lucy always suspected that Doreen paid for all that, and now the woman confirms her suspicions.
Doreen tells her that some jewellery that her late husband got her is gone, and she only noticed now that she is back from a holiday in Blackpool. Lucy asks her if anybody else had a key, and Doreen has to tell her that Helen does have a key as she works for her from time to time. Lucy wants to check on the girl. This will be a delicate matter. Doreen doesn’t want Helen to think she doesn’t trust the girl, but at the same time, if Helen is involved in this robbery, she wants to nit it in the bud.