The corpse of young Jamie Thorne is found wrapped in bin bags in a cave. Vera establishes that he had recently worked for funfair owners Morven and Bobby Pevensey, He had such a poor relationship with his stepfather, Philip Marsh, that he had been living on the streets until he was taken in by vicar George Haleford and his family. Jamie had rung his mother, Grace, before he died to ask for help but she had ignored him. Vera finds a link between Jamie and the Halefords' delinquent son Brendan, who also argued with his father and whose crucifix was found near the body. In addition to solving Jamie's murder, Vera has the added task of attending the funeral for her colleague, Bethany, killed in the line of duty.
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