Eleven year old Daniel Abercrombie is growing up in the difficult years following the Second World War. Orphaned at an early age, he is cared for by his Uncle Barney, a man of many talents but with a terrible secret that, he fears, threatens his future relationship with Daniel. They live in a small tenement flat, overlooking the railway line where, Daniel’s father had lost his life. This tragedy haunts Daniel but it also haunts his uncle.
Daniel believes that his uncle has been involved in a violent incident that has led to his arrest. Fearing that he will be taken into care in an orphanage, he runs away from school. On his own, hiding and struggling to know what to do for the best, Daniel decides to seek out his friends, Ina and Billy, who will be able to help him. However, when he finally arrives at the spot where their caravan is normally to be found, he discovers that it has been completely destroyed by fire. Of his friends and their dog, Hamish, there is no sign.
Daniel’s journey leads him into the bleak darkness of the countryside at night but also into the path of real peril in the form of two unscrupulous men. He will, though, also encounter unexpected kindness and a fearless rescue from an unexpected source. Finally he uncovers secrets that force him to think long and hard about the people around him.