The central character is Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, who is obsessive about her work and driven by her own demons. If she's lonely, she doesn't show it and faces the world with caustic wit, guile and courage. Her trusted and long-suffering colleague is Sergeant Joe Ashworth. Together, they approach every new case with unparalleled gusto and professionalism.
DCI Vera Stanhope is called to a chilling murder scene when the charred remains of a body are discovered in an abattoir incinerator. With limited forensic evidence, she is disturbed to identify the body as DC Harry Fenton, a respected police officer from the Northumberland & City Fraud Unit.
DCI Vera Stanhope is called to the scene of a violent car crash. With her typically sharp skills of observation, Vera quickly realises that the crash was not accidental and that another driver tried to kill victim, Faye Wakeland. When she dies in hospital shortly after, Vera suspects that Faye's murder might be connected to the recent suicide of a local man. She is a popular and well-loved member of a coastal community. But, Vera and Aiden find it difficult to get to the truth when everyone that they encounter seem to be protecting a secret. Vera must continue to delve into the lives of the people that Faye lived amongst, as well as the links she had with her past. Joined by her faithful team including DC Kenny Lockhart, as well as new recruit DC Jac Williams, Vera attempts to find the missing link that will lead to Faye's killer.
Quiet life in suburbia takes a dark turn when a woman is is discovered murdered, found lying dead in her back garden. When DCI Vera Stanhope discovers that the neighbours aren't all that they seem, buried secrets must be unearthed in order to catch the killer.
Vera has to unravel the circumstances of self-styled entrepreneur Freddie Gill’s death when his body is found by bailiffs attempting to repossess his house. Freddie is estranged from his wife and son – Jade and Riley Gill – who are now living back at her family's beloved pub with her formidable mother Tina Tripp, volatile brother Lee and taciturn uncle Darren. Matters are further complicated when Vera finds out Jade’s father Arthur, having recently succumbed to terminal illness, had secretly been keeping ties with Freddie despite him having been ejected from the family. Vera soon discovers Freddie’s professional life is just as turbulent when she learns the used-car sales company he runs with business partner and lifelong friend Nasir Ali, is failing and it is targeted by an arson attack. Vera must uncover whether the motive behind Freddie’s death comes from the trouble at the heart of his family, his desperate financial crises or his glances with organised crime.
Vera must unravel a tangled web of deceit between two wildly different families when the body of a teenage boy is discovered floating near a salmon farm.
A cleaner's body is discovered close to his flat in Newcastle, but pathology concludes that the killing blow could have occurred several hours before he succumbed to his injuries, prompting Vera to piece together the victim's final hours in order to investigate his murder.
Wealthy betting shop tycoon Alun Wilmott is shot and killed during a home invasion, leaving his wife and daughter traumatised—and with large amounts of cash missing from his personal safe, it is assumed he is the unlucky victim of a burglary. Vera suspects an inside job.
A fisherman's body is found tangled up in a North Sea trawler's net. Vera and her team investigate with the help of the local harbourmaster, and find the dead man's sons pointing the finger at the owner of a fish market, with whom they have a long-running feud. Retracing the dead man's steps, Vera discovers when he drowned and tracks down a waitress who may have been one of the last people to see him alive. However, the case becomes more complicated when a witness runs away and a boat belonging to the dead man's sister-in-law goes up in flames.
Vera investigates the mysterious murder of a fifty six year old grandmother, discovered by a young girl on the desolate Northumberland moors.
Vera investigates the death of a young man whose remains were found in remote caves.
Vera investigates the murder of a twenty two year old Alex Gartside, victim of a hit and run in a remote Northumberland Valley.
DCI Vera Stanhope investigates the murder of a trainee forensic psychologist found dead on a Northumberland landfill site.
Vera is confronted with the tragic scene of a teenage boy's murder. His body is found in a shipyard in the sleepy coastal town of Peyton-by-the-Sea. As he isn't recognized locally, it's not immediately apparent who he is. Eventually, Missing Persons records reveal that troubled Caden Lennon had absconded from the care of his support worker six weeks previously. With few leads thrown up by the Newcastle estate where Caden came from, Vera looks to the Peyton locals to throw some light on the investigation. Beneath the quaint facade she discovers that there is a growing drugs problem. But, with local dealer Tony Briggs now apparently going straight, it's not clear why. Vera begins to question whether Caden's connections to Newcastle and Peyton run deeper, and whether the lack of leads points to a ring of silence with darker forces at play. Vera must uncover the missing link to find Caden's ruthless killer.
Successful business-woman Lisa Varsey throws a lavish boat party for her family and friends on the River Tyne. But it goes horribly wrong when her sister Dani is found dead in the water. Lisa has an empire of beauty salons in Newcastle and a caring family in husband, Ross, and sister Sadie. At first the family believe that Dani's death was an accident but DCI Vera Stanhope and pathologist Malcolm Donahue (Paul Kaye) know that the forensics point to murder. Vera and the team alight on concerning rumours that Dani could have been in an abusive relationship and questions whether this could have led to her death. But, the investigation takes a turn when evidence points to the fact that something was rotten in another area of Dani's life. Vera begins to believe that Dani was going to expose an unpalatable truth. Vera must unpick the tightly-woven threads that hold the family together to discover who killed an innocent woman.
CI Vera Stanhope is drawn into a suspicious death on Ternstone, a remote and inaccessible island off the coast of Northumberland, home only to numerous species of birds and the rangers who observe them. The last thing anyone expected to see was a body, cruelly washed up on the shore.
When the body of a drug addict is found face down in a river, DCI Vera Stanhope is forced to delve back into an old case in order to unmask the killer.
DCI Vera Stanhope (Brenda Blethyn) is called to the University of Northumberland when Jamie Marshall, a young, promising journalism student, plummets to his death from the top of a disused faculty building. With no eyewitnesses and no immediate leads, Vera turns to friends and family to glean all she can about Jamie, and to discover who might have wanted him dead.
Surveyors out on the Northumberland moors make a shocking discovery: the body of a young woman buried beneath the soil. On the scene, assumptions are that this is the body of local teenager, Mia Hinkin, who disappeared six weeks ago. DCI Vera Stanhope is forced to deliver the terrible news to a broken family, desperate for answers.
Vera takes a look into a suspicious fire that rips through a holiday park on the Northumberland coast. Three cabins are destroyed and the body of a woman is discovered inside inside one of them.
Following the discovery of the remains of a teenage girl half-buried in a Northumberland wood, Vera and her team end up looking into a thirty-year old mystery.
Vera investigates the death of an unidentified man dredged up from a slurry pit on a remote Northumberland farm.
A dock worker plunges from the roof of a multistory car park whilst picking up daughter from her school prom and everything points to foul play.