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John Taylor is a loss adjuster, returning to his home town after an absence of thirteen years, to investigate a suspicious fire which has destroyed the business belonging to his childhood foe, Hunter Stokes. His return stirs up memories of his own loss - the drowning of his younger brother twenty years earlier in the fast flowing Run, where the harbour water is squeezed out to sea. It is the incident that has defined his life, with many holding him responsible for his brother's death.

As the fire investigation unfolds, the adjuster compromises his professional independence - he asks questions at the office of the local newspaper, knowing that Hunter's friend, the editor, will be reporting back to him. He interviews the claimant's mother and ex-wife, to increase the pressure Hunter is under, before the initial fire investigation report has even been produced. The reason becomes clear when he tells Hunter's mother that her son bullied him when they were children. This is personal.

Hunter's employees and allies are also dragged into the investigation, as old antagonism is rekindled, and the extent of the violence perpetrated against Taylor is laid bare. As the pressure of the investigation mounts on Hunter, the truth about the cause of the fire is overshadowed by a more shocking revelation.

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