Things have really got entangled. The main topic of the novel is prejudices against people who are not like us, in this case, the hatred of the locals is for homosexuals and foreigners. The two cases converge as the same people are involved in the attack against the Romanian family and the murder of Marty Kerrigan, the gay young man.
The instigators of these acts are Pastor Nixon, who refuses to tone down his message against the gay community, calling them depraved and worthy of punishment. Then there are other men who support a new political group, Ulster First, who support the locals against those who are different. One of them is Charles Dougan, the owner of the taxi company; Jackie Moss, who was the leader of the community at the time of troubles and was in prison for years for murdering four teenagers; and Stephen Wellan, who is the one who leads the new group.
Jackie Moss is shot, and when the suspicions fall on Charles Dougan, who from then on is ostracised and treated suspiciously by the whole community.
Lucy and Fleming find Gareth McGonigle, the young man who was with Marty the night of his death. He admits to having been with Marty that night in the pub, selling drugs, and he claims that Marty stayed with Bobbie McClean, who got Gareth the drugs, and apparently, Frankie and Marty were involved. Gareth swears that when he returned, Marty was lying there, and as he got scared, he just fled.
During the rally that the Ulster First organises, Lucy and her team are there, hoping to get hold of Frankie, but he doesn’t turn up. Pastor Nixon is there and gives his usual vitriolic speech, and to Lucy’s shock, DS Tara Gallagher arrests him, following by her partner Mike. The people in the audience start rebelling against the police officers that are trying to take the pastor away, and Lucy gets the pastor’s son, Ian, to calm them down. The young refuses at first, but Lucy has some information about him. Ian was in the pub on the gay night, and Lucy saw him on CCTV footage from the pub. The next day Ian comes to talk to Lucy, justifying his presence in the pub, and it is clear that what the boy wants is for Lucy to keep quiet about what she knows and refrain from telling his father.
The arrest of the pastor is seen as a mistake, and as a consequence, Tara and Mike get a tremendous scolding. Mike is not happy to be the butt of Burns’ anger as it wasn’t his fault, but Tara’s. Then when the woman is alone, he launches an angry diatribe against her. Lucy appears, but that doesn’t appease him. Mike is jealous as Lucy is being successful in the latest investigation, and consequently, Mike is shown in a bad light in comparison. When Lucy steps forward to defend Tara, Mike calls her dykes and is spiteful.
The following day Lucy gets a parcel and finds inside a sexual toy, which she knows MIke has sent. Then her mother wants a word with her, and the ACC tells her that Tara has lodged a complaint against Mike Sinclair because of his insults to her. Jane Wilson tells Lucy that Tara wants her to testify as well. Lucy admits that what Tara claims happened with Mike is true, and her mother tells her that her position now isn’t easy. What should she support the police or a friend? Testifying against one of theirs will mark her and get her enemies, but Tara is her friend. Jane says that if she were in her position now, she would support the friend, but in the point where Lucy is in her career, she wouldn’t know what to do. Lucy doesn’t know what she is going to do. When she talks to Tara, the woman admits she is gay, so that is why Mike’s words hurt her so much. Lucy still doesn’t know what she is going to do yet, so she intends to do what her mother told her: to have time to think things through. In her position I wouldn’t know what to do either. I would have to weigh up the consequences of my accusation and what the ‘crime’ was. Words can only hurt you if you let them, and in my opinion what Tara needs is to give Mike a lesson that won’t cost her too much.
Another death takes place. Bobbie McClean if found dead in his house. He has been beaten to death, and his body is full of bruises and he is naked from the waist down. On the wall there is a message: Faggot. Lucy and Fleming think that whoever killed Bobbie made it look as if it were another hate crime, but they believe this is a facade for something else.
The following day Mr McEwan, the man from the printer, calls, saying that his son Frankie left his trainers and his clothes in the washing machine and they are covered in blood. Mr McEwan knows what the consequences of his statement is, but he thinks that he is doing something good, taking his son away from the Ulster First, which will get him killed one day. Lucy and Fleming arrest the young man, who on the way to the station tells them that he was in Stephen Wellan’s pub most of the evening, and then he went to find Bobby in his house. According to Frankie, when he got there, Bobby was already dead, and the neighbour came and called the police, and the woman promised not to say anything about his being there.
Lucy doesn’t think Frankie killed Bobby, especially when she sees some CCTV footage, which supports his claim that he was in the pub almost all evening until 7.55, so since the body was found at about 8.05, Frankie wouldn’t have had time to beat up Bobby.
So who killed Bobby and why? Was it the same person that killed Marty?