Charlotte, the secret love-child of black, left-wing MP Eve Bowen and conservative editor Dennis Luxford, is kidnapped. The ransom note requires Luxford to publish the details of his first-born child within three days if he wants to see Charlotte ever again. Fearing publicity, Luxford enlists the help of his friend, police profiler Helen Clyde, under the condition of strictest secrecy. Helen agrees, but within the night, Charlotte's body is found in a canal. Lynley is horrified to know that Helen knew of the case but didn't inform the Police. His relationship with Helen comes to a stand-still.
In the meantime, Havers takes on Detective Constable Robin Payne in the investigation. They get along very well, almost too well to be just colleagues. However, neither Lynley nor Havers can afford to waste time on their evolving personal lives, since Charlotte's kidnapper and killer won't rest until the story of Luxford's first born is published - even if it means kidnapping and killing more children.
- Accidental Murder: Poor little Charlotte. If her kidnapper had been as competent with pharmaceuticals as he was with computers, she'd possibly still be alive.
- Adult Fear: This is the first episode in which we see Lynley genuinely afraid. In this case, it's for Barbara's safety — and he's absolutely right to be.
- Alone with the Psycho: Barbara inadvertently finds herself in this position, much to her horror and to Lynley's.
- Contrived Coincidence: For once, the reason Lynley is able to identify the killer has nothing to do with his line of questioning. He only finds out who the killer is because he stumbles across a photograph with the killer's writing behind it at the same time as he is holding the killer's handwritten ransom note.
- Damsel out of Distress: Barbara Havers has no intention of being a helpless Damsel in Distress. Solution? Rock to the head.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Lampshaded by DC Payne when he points out his circumstances look very Norman Bates-ish. He is a Momma's Boy, with a Disappeared Dad, being attentive to a lonely young woman, who's staying at a bed and breakfast run by his mother.
- given that Payne's the killer, this conversation could even be seen as a meta Chekhov's Gun
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Add misplaced pride to Helen's long list of virtues. She can't bear Lynley telling her not to feel guilty about Charlotte.
- Feminine Women Can Cook: Averted. Helen's cooking is something to be dreaded, even according to love-struck Lynley.
- Foreshadowing: As the page quote shows, when his work partner falls in danger, Lynley finds it difficult to be calm. His mad dash to find Havers towards the end of this episode is something we will see again...
- Hypocrite: Dennis Luxford writes vehemently about upholding family values, despite having a love-child himself.
- Married to the Job: Eve Bowen. She was very much a Missing Mom to Charlotte when Charlotte was alive.
- Meaningful Name: Robin Payne sure caused a lot of it.
- Mommy Issues: Gender flipped. Payne has Daddy issues.
- Oh, Crap!: "Hello, Havers, I'm just calling to tell you that X is the killer. Right, so are you with anyone at this moment? Oh sh..."
- Red Herring: The entire line of inquiry, hence the need for a Contrived Coincidence at the end.
- Sanity Slippage: The villain's Mask of Sanity slips rapidly at the end - to the point they're wearing a clear Psychotic Smirk.
- Wacky Marriage Proposal: Do you have anything to do this weekend? If not, why don't we go and get married?? Sure, Lynley. Go ahead and ruin your life.
- Workaholic: Clearly, Dennis Luxford is one to the point of being a When You Coming Home, Dad? father to his young son, Leo.