A hot summer on the Northumberland coast and Julie Armstrong arrives home from a night out to find her son strangled, laid out in a bath of water and covered with wild flowers. This stylised murder scene has Inspector Vera Stanhope intrigued. But then another body is discovered in a rock pool, the corpse again strewn with flowers. Vera must work quickly to find this killer who is making art out of death. As local residents are forced to share their deepest, darkest secrets, the killer watches, waits and plans to prepare another beautiful, watery grave.