Barbara is at a loss; The daughter of her friend Taymullah Azhar has been taken by her mother, and Barbara can't really help--Azhar had never married Angelina, and his name isn't on Hadiyyah's, their daughter's, birth certificate. He has no legal claim. Azhar and Barbara hire a private detective, but the trail goes cold.
Azhar is just beginning to accept his soul-crushing loss when Angelina reappears with shocking news; Hadiyyah is missing, kidnapped from an Italian marketplace. The Italian police are investigating, and the Yard won't get involved, until Barbara takes matters into her own hands -- at the risk of her own career.
As both Barbara and her partner, Inspector Thomas Lynley, soon discover, the case is far more complex than a typical kidnapping, revealing secrets that could have far-reaching effects outside of the investigation. With both her job and the life of a little girl on the line, Barbara must decide what matters most, and how far she's willing to go to protect it.