Once John Rebus was a Para, served in the elite SAS. Now he's an Edinburgh policeman who spends time evading his memories and missing promotion opportunities. Then there is the small matter of the brutal abduction and murder of two young girls and a third missing. Detective Sergeant John Rebus, smoking and drinking too much, his own daughter spirited away by his estranged wife, is one of many policemen hunting the killer. Then .the messages begin: knotted string and matchstick crosses taunt Rebus with a puzzle only he can solve. So begins the case that introduced the crime world to one of it's most compelling characters.