Rebus is confronted with baffling questions of pedophiles, child abuse, missing persons, a former sweetheart, fire bombs, mobs, a gay cross-dresser, and all amid the personal loss of an excellent friend and co-officer, to what? Suicide? Or murder? Detective Inspector John Rebus has his plate filled, again, with the evils of human misdeeds and personal trials. His emotions are drawn like a tight rope over the death of a man he most admired and respected, counterbalanced by the arrival on the scene of old friends seeking his assistance in finding their missing adolescent son. The old sparks catch fire with the woman he loved 20 years before, but he manages to keep all of the pressures of his work sorted out and resolves the multitude of issues facing him. But where will his reclaimed love leave him?