On a stormy February afternoon, little Stella Rivers disappeared - and was never seen again. There were no clues, no demands and no traces. All that remained was that cold, damp fear and a dread that touched everyone in town.
On a warm October day, five-year-old John Lawrence failed to come home. It was only then that the letters began. Evil, mad, taunting letters - letters that made the worst unspoken imaginings a brutal reality.
Chief Inspector Wexford summoned up all of his knowledge and resources to prevent another tragedy, but still came up with nothing. All of his instincts had been wrong ; all of his intuitions had led him nowhere.
And now, fighting against time and a growing sense of failure, lie would have to start again.