Tom Carey is a priest in crisis. God's good world has curdled and the Church is beset by scandal. Increasingly, he is haunted by the face of a woman he once secretly loved. Abandoning his comfortable parish he buries himself in the post of Port Chaplain on a busy river, but soon finds himself caught up in the murky world of international people-smuggling. The alluring but sinister Captain Cargo and his beleaguered Filipino crew seem intent on forcing him into a radical expression of his priesthood, but a chance encounter with the woman he has not seen for thirty years throws his vocation and faith into question.