Trouble seems to follow Chief Superintendent George Gently even on a French vacation. While day-dreaming by the quaint old harbour in Honfleur, violence strikes. First he is thrown into the water, then shortly afterwards someone tries to shoot him, narrowly missing him on two occasions. Gently is mystified, as are the Honfleur police. He knows of no enemies, French or English, or of any reason why anyone should be after him. Local police think he may have upset the plans of a thief stalking the Antiques Fair just opening in Honfleur, but senior officials from Paris have a much graver theory.
In company with the charming Gabrielle Orbec - who may or may not be an accomplice of Gently's attacker - Gently plays the role of decoy. Apparently just a sightseer on the beaches of Normandy and in the sunlit, cobbled market squares, Gently, with the French Surete close behind, lays a trap for a very much wanted man.