Someone attempts to abduct Ellie Pascoe, and her friend, Daphne Alderman, is assaulted by a man keeping watch on the Pascoe house. Dalziel, Pascoe and Wield feel certain there must be a link here with one of Pascoe's cases, either current or past. Only DC Shirley Novello wonders whether perhaps these events might have more to do with Ellie than her husband. While the men concentrate on their individual theories, Ellie, her daughter Rosie, Daphne, and Novello (their official minder) head for the coast to the supposed safety of the Alderman's holiday home, Cleets Cottage. But their flight proves somewhat futile as Ellie's would-be abductor continues to send her letters of possibly threatening intent, composed in a strange Elizabethan English.