LIFE for Anna has reached its lowest possible ebb: her daughter Tilly is refusing to communicate, apparently traumatised by some unspeakably scarring ordeal; her drug-addicted brother Niall is incapable of leaving the bed of the flat the siblings share in Dublin; and she is broke to the point of being too poor to afford a proper midday meal for herself and her child.
On the other side of Ireland, Detective Garda Peter Fisher is frantic. A 12-year-old girl has been snatched from a footpath and thrown into the boot of a vehicle in Galway.
Fisher’s mentor, Detective Sergeant Cormac Reilly, is being denied the police resources the pair need to start a search – payback, they assume, for the straight-laced Reilly having fallen foul of the unscrupulous hierarchy at their station during previous incidents. Both men know that time is all-important when attempting to solve an abduction.
With Reilly temporarily diverted to interview the distraught parents, Fisher must decide on his own what to do next. Dusk is falling and a potential suspect’s car has been sighted heading away from the city and towards an isolated wilderness area. Should he try to follow it now, before any more daylight is lost, or wait for Reilly to return his call?
The consequences of the young detective’s choice will have ramifications not only for himself but also for those around him, spinning Fisher out of his comfortable Galway existence and into the village of his early years, Roundstone, where he finds two strangers living in his grandmother Maggie’s house.
Is the scattering of recent events somehow connected?
Dervla McTiernan’s third Cormack Reilly novel (building on the success of The Rúin and The Scholar) promotes Fisher to the front line as a key character for the first time while Reilly takes a sideways step into a parallel investigation.