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It's a dead-end, is Grimsby, the end of the track. Next stop the Humber estuary. Or the North Sea. Twenty years ago, on a sticky, brooding summer's night, with all the recklessness of youth, three young, vodka-befuddled teenage girls, bubbling with fun, head for the local park in high spirits, determined to have a good time. Only it doesn't work out that way. Some of the lads with them, a muscle-bound bunch of the local squashed nose society led by aspiring young Godfather, the brutish Roy Vago, are all ice behind smiles.
The appalling result is a gang rape and a vicious assault on one of the girls. No-one is charged, let alone faces justice in a court, but the tragic consequences are to blight the lives of all who were there that night.
In a grim, back-of-beyond tract of the East Midlands, among the grimy back streets and decaying wharves and fish docks of the once proud fishing ports of South Humberside, newly arrived DS Joe Kell, a hard-nosed copper and as ruthless as the crooks he deals with, wastes no time resuming his surreptitious dealings amongst the murky world of drugs, double dealing, and gratuitous brutality.
A 20 year old unsolved rape and assault case in a Grimsby park lands on Joe's desk and leads him into a world of vicious and unbelievable savagery. His dodgy drug-dealing activities quickly draw him onto the radar of a gang of violent local criminals led by the psychopathic Roy Vago, who were all, it transpires, the prime suspects in the case. No-one was ever charged. Many in the police aren't surprised at that…
This is a gritty, down-to-earth story of everyday criminal folk - their dreadful deeds, the consequences, and the rich vein of black humour that bleeds through their heartless business, the police close on their tails, and the volatile relationship of Joe and current squeeze Linda.