The mutilated body of a young black woman is washed up on a remote beach in the west of Ireland. The search to find her killer takes Timothy O'Mahony far from his exile as a Garda sergeant in Bangor Erris into the corruption and machinations surrounding the election campaigns for the next President of France. With his prime suspects in the inner circle of Laurent Delahaye, the main opposition contender for the Presidency and womanising one-time leader of the Social Democratic party, O'Mahony finds that even senior French judges and policemen cannot always be relied upon to be impartial when a case may have political implications.
His own position becomes increasingly difficult as he follows the trail to the Congo and finds a link between its brutal dictator, a French oil company, at least one of the suspects, and the dead woman. When he loses the cooperation of his French colleagues and is taken off the case, O'Mahony, in his search for justice for the murdered girl and her family, finally has to call on the help of the Irish travelling community, known for their distrust and dislike of the Irish police.