A young girl’s concern for a missing friend plunges her and her mother into a perilous situation in another of Mark's haunting psychological thrillers (The Mausoleum, 2019, etc.).
Hilda leads an odd life with her mother, Molly, a former police officer who runs a pub in the heart of Jack the Ripper’s London. The Jolly Bonnet’s morbid exhibits draw people with similar interests. When Meda Stauskas, an awkward Lithuanian girl Hilda’s befriended, doesn’t turn up for their dance class, Hilda urges Molly to visit Meda’s parents. A tough-looking man named Karol tells them nothing is wrong. Molly, who isn’t buying it, enlists her best friend, Lottie, a pathologist and vlogger interested in the macabre, who remembers the police telling her that a local gang has targeted immigrants. When the pub is visited by three heavies who attack after accusing them all of snooping, Karol turns up and throws them out. He says that Meda’s been gone three days and that her parents have called him instead of the police. Karol describes himself as a fixer of problems who expects to make a payment to get Meda back. As Molly grows more intimate with Karol, he admits that Meda may be dead, since only a fake call for money has ever come. Unknown to Molly’s crew is the mysterious bibliophile Mr. Farkas, who has a special interest in the works of Jean Denys, best remembered for transfusing blood from animals to humans using goose quills as hypodermics. Farkas has a particular reason to learn more about Denys’ work. So does Lottie after she recalls the case of a young girl, similar in appearance to Meda, who was found dead with a goose feather in a puncture wound. Farkas may be the key to Meda’s whereabouts once they learn of his existence.
Don’t expect a happy ending in this twisty, chilling tale.