At last the day has arrived that Christopher Foyle has been waiting for. A replacement has been chosen and Foyle can walk out of the Hastings Police Station, his tenure as Detective Chief Superintendent finally over. However, when he spots the headline in a national paper about James Devereaux, a member of a distinguished Hastings family who will likely hang for treason, he realizes that he might have one last case to explore before he starts afresh.
Foyle visits Devereaux in his cell and what follows are a series of mysterious meetings between a damaged young man intent on self destruction and Foyle, who will not give up on him. Devereaux is charged with involvement in the British Free Corps, a group of British POWs who were recruited to fight for the Germans. In these early post-war days it seems to be a fairly clear-cut case, only Foyle suspects Devereaux is hiding information that could lead to his own exoneration.
In another part of Hastings, Samantha "Sam" Stewart and Adam Wainwright have battles of their own to fight: Hill House, their guest house, is suffocating under mounting debts and the dark shadow of the town planners whose vision of Hastings is everything that Hill House is not — so it has to go. Working together, they finally manage to secure the future of the guest house, when disaster strikes. Will Sam and Adam find happiness amid the ruins of their shared enterprise?
Meanwhile the clock is ticking as Foyle desperately searches for any evidence to clear James Deveraux's name. What becomes apparent is that this case means more to Foyle than any that he has previously undertaken.
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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers
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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers
In August 1945, atomic bombs have been dropped on Japan, surrender is imminent, and the world is entering a new era. And so is Christopher Foyle. With his resignation finally accepted, he arranges for passage to New York on the Queen Mary, due to leave in a few days.
Then a newspaper headline catches his eye: "Devereaux Treason Trial." The Devereaux family has been prominent in southern England for centuries, and young James Devereaux is to stand trial for joining the British Free Corps, a group of Nazi collaborators organized among British POWs in Germany during the war.
Though no longer a police officer, Foyle takes an obsessive interest in the case and begins investigating as if he were still on the force. Calling on James's lawyer, Foyle learns that James was with the British Free Corps in Dresden during the devastating Allied bombing raid and was later captured by the British. Though he could claim that as a POW he was coerced into collaborating, he offers no defense and faces execution.
As if this were not enough for the Devereaux family, a member of the house staff, Agnes, is discovered strangled to death in her flat. A photo of her boyfriend has been removed from a frame by her bedside.
Amid this drama, Adam and Sam are fighting for the survival of Adam's guest house, which is threatened by a development project. Adam even lands in jail when he attacks a planning committee member on the proposed building site, the town green.
During his initial investigation, Foyle learns that James suffered greatly as a boy after his mother, Caroline, was gored to death by deer on the family estate. Thereafter he refused to go to "the hide," where he and his mother used to observe wildlife together.
So far, Foyle has found nothing that clears blame for James. The treason trial begins, James is convicted, and he is sentenced to hang on the very day that Foyle is to leave for America. After the trial, Foyle is summoned to a meeting with British intelligence, where he meets Stanford, a British agent who had joined the British Free Corps to track their activities and knew James as a confused traitor. The intelligence service wants Foyle to drop his interest in the case.
Undeterred, Foyle continues to piece together enough details about James's past so that he can guess at parts of the truth and get James to reveal the rest. James was, in fact, the young man whose photo was stolen from Agnes's bedside — except Agnes referred to him as Jack, the pseudonym he used in coded letters from Germany (disguised as ordinary POW correspondence) that she regularly delivered to British intelligence.
After the bombing of Dresden, Stanford survived but believed that James had died, so he assumed James's identity as an agent, guaranteeing that Stanford would not face prosecution for treason. But when the real Jack (James) showed up alive, Stanford had to get rid of the one person who could identify him as her correspondent: Agnes.
At a crucial point in Foyle's interview with James, Foyle reveals the shocking news that he knew Caroline during World War I, when as a nurse she helped him recover from wounds. They fell in love, but then she reconciled with her husband, Charles, when she became pregnant with James (by whom is not specified).
Then the truth comes tumbling out from James: how as a boy spying on his arguing parents from the hide, he saw Charles murder Caroline in a fit of jealousy. Part of James's motive for keeping silent during the trial was to destroy the family name.
Having cleared James, and put Stanford and Charles behind bars, Foyle departs for America to take care of "unfinished business." Sam and Adam see him off, having had their own adventure. Their campaign to derail the development plan succeeded, but their house blew up under mysterious circumstances. Amid the smoke, flames, and chaos, Adam seized the perfect opportunity to hold Sam in his arms and propose.