This is the second book in the CHERUB series.
When CHERUB kids go undercover, no one suspects they are trained professionals, working to infiltrate organisations that have eluded MI5 and police for years.
James Adams is on his biggest mission yet, working to nail Europe's most powerful cocaine dealer. He'll need all his specialist training if he's going to bring down the man at the top.
The reason for CHERUB's existence is simple: adults never suspect that children are spying on them.
For official purposes, these children do not exist.
While on holiday at CHERUB's summer hostel on the Mediterran island of C–––, James and Bruce take part in a training exercise, but due to their poor planning they are outwitted and beaten by Kerry and Gabrielle. Back at the hostel, Bruce loses his temper after Kerry mocks him and James and shoves her, chipping her tooth. The two begin brawling and Bruce ends up twisting Kerry's leg, causing a pin in her kneecap to cut into her tendons. Kerry is sent to have surgery while Bruce is sent home. James and Gabrielle, despite trying to break up the fight, are also sent back.
As punishment for their behaviour, James, Bruce and Gabrielle are given a month's gardening duty. However, Kyle approaches James ask for his help on an anti-drugs mission, where he, Kyle and Kerry will pose as the adopted children of mission controllers Ewart and Zara Asker. James persuades Kyle to get Nicole Eddison, a recently-qualified grey shirt who James has a minor crush on, involved with the mission as well. The mission requires the cherubs to befriend the children of Keith Moore, a Luton-based drug dealer who controls KMG, the largest cocaine dealer in Europe. James is assigned to befriend Keith's younger son Junior, and earns his respect after helping him steal games from a computer store. While at a boxing ring with Junior and his friend Del, James discovers that Del works for KMG delivering cocaine. When James expresses an interest in deliveries Del speaks to two subordinates of Keith Moore, who set up James with a delivery run.
James ends up kissing Nicole and enters a relationship with Junior's sister April, but realises that he has feelings for Kerry as well after seeing her with another boy, Dinesh Singh. While talking about his dilemma with Kyle, Kyle admits to James that he is gay. James is shocked but, after talking to Kerry and Nicole, comes to terms with Kyle's homosexuality.
Kerry learns from Dinesh that his father has dealings with Keith Moore, who uses his father's food factory, Thunderfoods, for his cocaine business. Kerry, James and Lauren (who had visited James for her birthday) break into Thunderfoods and discover that Keith uses the factory to dilute and package the cocaine. CHERUB teams up with MI5 agent John Jones to put Thunderfoods under surveillance. Later, James and Kerry are sent to deliver four bricks of cocaine to St. Albans, but when they get there they are jumped by three men who rob them at gunpoint and beat them. James and Kerry realise that if they don't get the drugs back the mission will be ruined, and so they track down one of the men, Crazy Joe, and overpower him before retrieving the drugs. This attracts the attention of Keith Moore, who had set up the robbery to test James' loyalty.
On James' thirteenth birthday, Junior offers James some cocaine at a youth club. James initially refuses, knowing that if he is caught he will be expelled from CHERUB, but after Nicole snorts some James decides to try, only to be interrupted by a security guard. When James, Kerry and Nicole return home Nicole's nose begins bleeding profusely and she faints. James is forced to explain to Ewart that she took cocaine, and Ewart rushes her to hospital. When Ewart returns, he orders the cherubs to undergo a drugs test. James and Kerry's tests come back clean but Kyle's tests contains traces of marijuana. Nicole is expelled from CHERUB.
MI5 and the police bust Thunderfoods after their surveillance uncovers many of Keith Moore's lieutenants, but find no evidence to implicate Keith. Keith visits Miami to meet the cartel supplying him with cocaine, Lambeyeke, under the pretence of taking a holiday; Junior invites James to come with him. Ewart and Zara realise that James has a golden opportunity to gain information on KMG and send him back to CHERUB for a brief computer-hacking course, taught by Amy Collins, who has retired as a cherub. When he gets back to his room at CHERUB, James discovers Lauren, who was kicked out of basic training after assaulting Norman Large with a spade. Mac punishes Lauren by giving her ditch-clearing duty until basic training restarts, joined by Kyle as punishment for his indisgression.
Before leaving for Miami, James admits his feelings to Kerry. Kerry agrees to be his girlfriend. In Miami, Keith Moore claims that he plans to settle his debts owed to the cartel before retiring from the drug trade. However, after James hacks Keith's laptop John Jones discovers that Keith has set up trust funds for his ex-wife and children and surmises that Keith plans to go into hiding. Later, cartel thugs break into Keith's home and brutally interrogate him to obtain his bank account numbers. James is forced to shoot one to escape. The cartel members, apprehensive, try to escape but are arrested. John Jones convinces Keith to enter a plea bargain for a reduced sentence in exchange for information on the cartel.
James returns home and he and Kerry begin going out. James happily reflects that, after one year at CHERUB, campus now feels like home.
- During a week-long interrogation by the DEA in Washington DC, Keith Moore provides information that leads to the arrest of several cartel members and the seizure of $130 million of drug money, as well as £12 million of Keith's personal fortune, although he is believed to have hidden £40 million in secret bank accounts. Keith is sentenced to 18 years for drug trafficking and money laundering, with the judge recommending that he serve at least 10.
- Amongst the KMG members imprisoned are Kelvin Holmes, who supplied James with the cocaine for his deliveries (three years in youth custody), Madeline Burrows, who gave James his delivery routes (five years) and her brother Joseph Burrows aka Crazy Joe (five years). No charges are bought against Ken Fowler, who supervised the boxing club where KMG recruited delivery boys; however, he dies from a heart attack a few months later. Dinesh's father Parvinder Singh receives 12 years; Dinesh and his mother subsequently move in with relatives in South London.
- Junior Moore, who was tortured by Lambayeke after James' escape, recovers from his injuries and is taken in by his mother Julie Moore after Keith's imprisonment, along with his siblings Ringo, April and Erin. Junior is soon expelled from his school for persistent truancy and is sent to a tough boarding school.
- April Moore is annoyed when James stops responding to her emails and texts. She smashes a watch that James had lent her and forwards to him with a note attached with berates James and wishes for him to suffer a slow death.
- John Jones leaves MI5 and becomes a mission controller.
- Ewart and Zara Asker conceive a second child, due in April 2005.
- Nicole Eddison is adopted by two ex-cherubs living in a farm in Shropshire. She has two younger step-brothers and a boyfriend (ironically also named James), and also receives counselling to help her come to terms with the death of her family.
- A new mission preparation building is scheduled to be opening in February 2005.
- Amy Collins moves to Australia to live with her older brother John.
- Kyle and Lauren manage to clear all the ditches after two months. Kyle is suspended for a further four months, while Lauren re-enters basic training.
- Kerry is given a mission in Hong Kong, but keeps in touch with James.
- James begins studying for GCSEs and weight training, but narrowly fails getting his second dan black belt. He expects to be given a new mission in early 2005.