On the night Neil Moray is returned as Independent MP for the seaside town of Scotney, William Lomax, editor of the local paper, has a visit from a woman with an unsavoury tale to tell about Moray's campaign manager, Rodney Cope. Much has been made of Moray's personal integrity and his determination to clean up Scotney, and it seems plain that the woman, estranged wife of the unsuccessful Conservative candidate, is unbalanced.
Nonetheless Lomax takes a hard look at the set-up in Moray's camp. The development of the West Front is a major issue and a suspicion persists that Cope may have a special interest in it . . . Then the woman who started it all is found dead.
While sunbathers luxuriate in a heat wave and children queue for donkey rides on the sands, Cope, Moray and Lomax move towards a violent climax, set among police sharpshooters, television cameras and holidaymakers.