Plot Revealed Below!
Retirement looms for Jane Tennison, but a last crisis threatens to destroy the reputation of her exemplary career. Tennison struggles to stay afloat as the storm around her intensifies. She tries to redeem herself professionally and must find redemption personally. But if the will to fight is gone, what hope is there of renewal?
Tony and Ruth Sturdy are frantic. Their 14-year-old daughter, Sallie, has not returned home all night. It's 7:30 in the morning and their neighbor, Sean Philips, is leaving for the local school where he is headmaster. His daughter, Penny -- a classmate and close friend of Sallie's -- has no idea where she might be.
Meanwhile, Detective Superintendent Tennison wakes up in her London flat. Retirement looms for Tennison, but the detective is paying dearly for 35 years of repressed rage and loneliness. She has a throbbing head and only a hazy recollection of the previous night's events. A stiff, neat vodka is her breakfast choice.
On arriving at murder squad headquarters her team fills her in on the facts surrounding Sallie's disappearance.
It is clear that Jane Tennison is a woman on the edge. Only weeks away from retirement, this could well be her last case. But Tennison has more than this high profile investigation to contend with -- she is not only dealing very privately with the imminent death of her father, but also an addiction to alcohol she is desperately trying to keep hidden.
Tennison visits the distraught parents, anxious to follow up any potential leads as the clock ticks. She visits the local care home for teenage girls and encounters Curtis Flynn, whose name keeps cropping up. What role has he played in Sallie's life, or indeed, the lives of all the local girls?
Tennison visits Penny Philips to discover more about the world of these teenage girls -- one totally alien to Tennison -- and, as the story progresses, she discovers she has an unexpected affinity with Penny. Tennison is alone and vulnerable and a 14-year-old girl seems to have pierced her armor and become an unlikely 'friend.'
When Tennison finally gets to the hospital she discovers that her father is seriously ill. She refuses to accept the diagnosis and is determined to seek a second opinion -- but is this more for her benefit than her father's?
Further police investigations throw up discrepancies in Tony Sturdy's alibi for the night of his daughter's disappearance and he's brought in for questioning. Tennison handles the interview insensitively and is in trouble with her boss for appearing to be under the influence of alcohol while on duty.
Forced to seek professional help she encounters an old adversary, Bill Otley, at her first AA meeting. He has some surprises for Jane and encourages her to confront her demons.
An exhaustive search of a local heath reveals what has long been feared -- the body of Sallie Sturdy. The autopsy reveals a shattering surprise which will have far reaching consequences for all those concerned in the investigation.
As the net widens other potential suspects move into focus. Everyone who has come into contact with Sallie has to be painfully and painstakingly eliminated from the inquiries.
Tony Sturdy points the finger of suspicion at headmaster Sean Philips, 'a primary carer and sanctimonious prick;' but Tennison is far from convinced. She is more interested in tracking down the elusive Curtis Flynn who, once again, successfully evades police capture only to re-emerge for a final chilling encounter with Tennison.
Fleeing the scene of his brutal encounter with Tennison, Curtis Flynn appears to have taken Penny Phillips hostage. Fearing for the teenager's life, Tennison embarks on a frantic bid to track down the armed and increasingly desperate suspect.
Flynn is on the edge and quickly running out of options. As he takes refuge in the home of his sister Vanessa, Penny realizes the danger she is in. At the first opportunity, she breaks out of the flat, and a frenetic chase ensues as the teenager runs for her life.
Sean Phillips, on learning of his daughter's situation, jumps into his car to join the hunt despite all advice to the contrary. As he drives around town, his instincts seem to lead him in the right direction and he spots the terrified Penny running down the road. He takes her straight to a relieved Tennison.
On learning of Flynn's location, Tennison has no hesitation in calling in the armed response team to defuse a potential siege at Vanessa's flat. But the situation has an unexpected outcome which further obscures Tennison's investigation. The discovery of Sallie's duffle bag at Vanessa's flat seems to add even more weight to the case against Flynn, but Tennison is still not persuaded.
As she continues to question her suspect about the exact nature of his relationship with Sallie, Tennison learns some surprising facts about the teenager, which convince her to take the investigation down a new path.
In an attempt to narrow down potential suspects by further DNA sampling, Jane has to make one of her toughest decisions yet, while continuing to battle her own demons in what, as she is continually reminded, is her last case. And as she makes what looks like her final arrest, Tennison's personal life is brought into sharp relief and she responds as only she can -- by coming out fighting.
As the end draws near for Jane Tennison and the truth surrounding the death of Sallie Sturdy finally emerges, the search for the teenager's killer concludes with a shattering confrontation.