Life's gone pear-shaped for Jack Irish. He's back to takeaway Chinese for one after his girlfriend Linda abandoned him for a career in Sydney, a flashy Brisvegas type is muscling in on the racetrack action, and his cabinet-making still leaves a lot to be desired. So when an old teammate of his dad's turns up looking for help, it's a welcome distraction for Jack.
Des Connors' son Gary has gone missing, having nicked off with all Des's money. But sometimes prodigal sons go AWOL for a reason. As Jack begins to dig he discovers Gary was a man with something to hide and a very good reason to disappear - or be disappeared.
Finding Gary turns nasty when Jack pushes the wrong buttons at the headquarters of a national transport company owned by one of Australia's wealthiest men. Suddenly there are a disturbing number of faceless people in ill-fitting suits taking an interest in Jack's quest including Dave, an obsessive federal agent and head of a clandestine operation called Black Tide.
Meanwhile, Ricky Kirsch, a Brisvegas former horse trainer, is moving in on the turf of Harry Strang, Jack's friend and sometime employer. Ricky fixes races and hits on a dead man's wife at the funeral, but when he starts killing jockeys he crosses the line.
The body count in Gary's case is rising at an alarming rate. A missing webcaster, two overripe corpses in a long-term car park and a dead Fed who has turned to consommé in a water tank all point to one thing - Jack is in way over his head. It turns out Gary is a witness who could bring down a business empire and more. The race to find him becomes a lethal sprint. First prize: staying alive.