Watching from her maternity leave, DCI Judy Hill (Scene of Crime, 2001, etc.) sees that the Stansfield CID is being reorganized; she may be breaking her professional partnership with her newborn Charlotte’s father, DCI Lloyd, and put in charge of the Malworth Constabulary herself if she can bring herself to leave Charlotte in someone else’s care. It’s reorganization time in Kayleigh Scott’s family too. No sooner has her testimony jailed Dean Fletcher, the 20-something she led on from chat room to bedroom, for interfering with a minor than her adoptive mother, wealthy charity director Lesley Newton, gives the gate to Phil Roddam, the closest thing to a father the 13-year-old has known for the past eight years, because she’s fallen for computer consultant Ian Waring, who needs to leave his own unsuspecting lover, Theresa Black, to make his dreams come true. In fact, things are about to get even worse for Kayleigh, since Lesley, unhappy about the girl’s latest friendship with an older schoolmate, is plotting to spirit her off to Australia without telling Phil in advance. The domestic situation is so explosive it can only end in murder—but this time there’s the bonus of a kidnapping when Emma Crawford, born in the same hospital the same day as Charlotte, is snatched from under her nanny’s wandering eyes. So much for Judy’s plan to entrust her own daughter to hired help.
McGown weaves one of her most tangled webs until a climactic revelation bares the ugly truth in a single masterstroke.