The body of ex-Fleet Street reporter Eric Patterson is found by a railway track. He was last seen arguing with Alderman Wintergreen over the Landesman construction company's plans to develop the site of former borstal Blenheim Vale. At the same time ten year old Tommy Cork runs away from his bullying father and George Aldridge, a former Blenheim Valley boy, absconds from jail and is later found dead, Morse believing that Tommy saw the killer and is now hiding. Then Wintergreen is also murdered. Eventually Morse learns that three of George's contemporaries at Blenheim Vale were trying to contact him. They tell Morse that there was sexual abuse of the boys when Wintergreen and Landesman were on its governing board but police declined to step in. At the same time ACC Deare confides in Thursday and Morse that he believes there is a cover up involving police corruption and asks them to investigate covertly. Aware that Tommy must have seen at least one of the murders Morse has to save both him and Thursday who has been lured into a trap by the guilty parties.