It's July, 1945 and the dawning of a new era. Britain is settling into peacetime, a new Labor government is waiting in the wings and Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle is itching to retire. Samantha "Sam" Stewart has found work as a housekeeper with an eminent artist, Sir Leonard Spencer-Jones, and Paul Milner is finding his feet as the new Detective Inspector in Brighton's police force.
When Sir Leonard Spencer-Jones is found dead in his home, suspicion falls on a young Russian prisoner of war, Niko, whom Sir Leonard has taken under his wing. Niko flees the Sussex coast and heads for The Russian House, a sanctuary for Russians in London, closely followed by DCS Foyle who has been asked to track him down by the War Office.
Sam, convinced of Niko's innocence and deeply concerned about his safety, persuades Foyle to take her with him — at least she will be a friendly face if they do find him. However, when Foyle stumbles upon an intricate web of conspiracy and deceit his life is put in danger like never before.
Read full synopsis
Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers
Hide full synopsis
Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers
In June 1945, the war in Europe is over and Britain is tying up loose ends. One is what to do with more than 1,200 Russians who switched sides to fight for Germany against Stalin. They are now in a POW camp in southern England.
As a group of the Russians are being transported, two escape. Facing recapture, one commits suicide by leaping from a bridge. The other, Ivan Spiakov, makes his getaway and is last spotted near Hastings.
The War Office is desperate that Spiakov be caught and sends Brigadier Timothy Wilson to put Foyle on the case. Wilson, who is Foyle's old army commander from World War I, is evasive about the true reason Spiakov is wanted.
Meanwhile, Foyle's former driver Sam is working for aristocratic artist Sir Leonard Spencer-Jones at Redwood Lodge near Brighton. Sir Leonard's gardener is a freed Russian POW named Nikolai, whom Sir Leonard plans to adopt, having broken with his son, Maurice, over politics. In a fit of pique, Sir Leonard orders his solicitor to change the will to make Nikolai his heir.
One day Nikolai is visited by the fugitive Spiakov, who advises his former army comrade to go to the Russian House in London — an anti-Soviet enclave — in order to escape a dire fate.
In another plot twist, Sir Leonard's former workman Tom Bradley returns from war service and wants his old job back, but Sir Leonard refuses. Coincidentally, Tom's brother, Captain Joe Bradley, heads the British army unit that supervises the Russian POWs.
As the interests of Tom, Captain Bradley, Maurice, and Nikolai converge on Redwood Lodge, Sir Leonard is found dead of a gunshot wound. The investigating officer is Foyle's old sergeant, DI Paul Milner of the Brighton police. Milner immediately suspects Nikolai, who has fled. But as the arriving Foyle slyly points out to Sam, even she is a suspect, since she had allowed Sir Leonard to sketch her in the nude against her better judgment — which gives her a motive!
Joking aside, Foyle and Sam drive to London, where Foyle meets with Wilson, and Sam goes to the hotel where Wilson's men have recently captured Spiakov. Their goal is to track down Nikolai. At the hotel, Sam befriends Adam Wainwright, an easygoing former intelligence analyst who intends to run a rooming house in Hastings. Later, someone who wants to silence Foyle attempts to shoot him, hitting Adam in the shoulder instead.
The assassin pursues Foyle and Sam, but is shot dead by an agent from the Russian House, who tells Foyle about a secret agreement between Stalin and Churchill to repatriate Russian POWs against their will to the Soviet Union, where they will almost certainly be executed — something the Russian POWs have guessed. The repatriation scheme is being kept secret, which is the reason for Wilson's evasiveness. Presumably, it was a Soviet agent who made the attempt on Foyle's life — although one who had been tipped off by the War Office about where to find Foyle.
Foyle uses this information to force Wilson to release Nikolai, who had been captured by a Soviet agent and handed over to the British. Nikolai reveals that when Captain Bradley arrived at Redwood Lodge to apprehend him for deportation, Sir Leonard tried to stop the arrest and was accidentally shot by the captain. Bradley then tried to make it look like Nikolai was the killer.
With Foyle's protection, Nikolai is allowed to remain in England and out of the hands of his vengeful mother country.