The war might have ended, but Hastings is at the center of mounting racial tensions. The white GIs are being shipped back home, leaving the black GIs on the US base with time to kill until transport becomes available for them. Prejudice is swelling up between the black GIs and the locals. Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle is called to a civic meeting to discuss how to quell the tensions, and isn't happy about the proposed solution.
Meanwhile, Samantha "Sam" Stewart has become the new assistant manager of a dilapidated local guest house. She is now working with kindred spirit Adam Wainwright. They are both pretty hopeless at running the guest house, but muddle through as best they can as their friendship deepens.
Mandy Dean is one of the residents: disowned by her family, she is a young, vulnerable new mother going it alone because of the racial prejudices leveled against her and her mixed race baby. Mandy's life becomes more complicated when her ex-boyfriend, conscientious objector Tommy Duggan, returns home and hopes to win her back.
When a body is found on the US army base, racial tensions reach a boiling point and the finger of blame is swiftly pointed at one suspect. Foyle begins to investigate, but is not convinced that the suspect could be capable of such a brutal crime. It is not long before Foyle finds himself going head-to-head against the US army and all of its might.
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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers
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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers
In July 1945, the war in Europe is over and American troops are heading home from Britain. But black GIs must wait at the end of the line for transport. Reacting to the resulting racial tensions, civic leaders in Hastings consider imposing segregation on the advice of the local American liaison officer, Major Wesker. However, Foyle objects that this violates everything the war was fought to preserve. Eventually, he is overruled.
Foyle's work is complicated by a rash of robberies, involving an armed man and his female accomplice who are targeting well-off businessmen. Attacked while driving through the countryside at night, the victims are berated as war profiteers before being relieved of their money by the masked couple.
Meanwhile, tempers are frayed at Adam's rooming house, where local English girl Mandy Dean is caring for her colicky mixed-race baby, having been put out of home by her mother. Sam tries to soothe the sleep-deprived lodgers, including Larry, a veteran who lost an arm in action. Lucy, a young war widow, takes the baby's side against Larry.
Mandy's former fiancé is Tommy Duggan, a promising boxer who was a conscientious objector during the war and has just returned home — to a less-than-warm welcome from citizens who resent his refusal to take up arms. Tommy is distressed to learn that Mandy has had a child by a black GI. The father is Gabe Kelly, who wants to marry Mandy and take her back to the US.
Unable to find work, Tommy accepts the boxing offer of American Sergeant Calhoun, who arranges illegal matches and rakes in profits from a betting pool. At the fight, a brawl starts between black soldiers and white GIs. In the melee, Gabe assaults the deeply racist Calhoun, then flees, with the sergeant and other soldiers in hot pursuit. During the commotion, the masked couple makes off with the payroll for the base.
As Calhoun and his posse search for Gabe in the nearby woods, they come across Mandy's body. She has been strangled. Since she is an English civilian, Foyle has jurisdiction over the case. But by the time he arrives Major Wesker has already arrested Gabe for murder. Calhoun visits Gabe in jail and coerces him into confessing by threatening to harm his baby.
The first break in the case comes when the masked couple is unmasked: a prosthetic arm, discovered in a shed, turns out to belong to Larry, who is living under an assumed name and committing robberies at night. The prosthesis makes victims think he has two good arms. His female accomplice is Lucy, who is really his wife. Although the two were near the scene of the murder during the payroll heist, and might plausibly have killed Mandy because she was a witness, they profess innocence — which makes it appear that Calhoun is the real killer. Although he admits that he was a conspirator in the payroll job, Calhoun points Foyle in the direction of the real murderer: Major Wesker.
It turns out that Wesker sought sexual favors from Mandy in return for approving Gabe's request that she be allowed to return with him to the US. When it became clear that Mandy knew that Wesker and Calhoun were plotting to hijack the payroll (with the help of Larry and Lucy), the major thought he had no choice but to get Mandy out of the way, dumping her body in the woods and framing Gabe.
As Gabe's unit finally ships out, Sam brings Gabe's infant daughter, now in the care of Mandy's mother, so Gabe can say good-bye. He promises to return. Meanwhile, the baby has been an eye-opener for Sam and Adam, who are not yet a couple, but are getting the idea that they might start a family of their own.