The first appearance by Alexander, whose pseudonym supposedly masks a well-known genre author, pits Pofnee—North East England’s Major Crimes Unit—against a cutthroat batch of Albanian sex slavers and the even more monstrous figures behind them.
Shortly after Gary "Gaz" Frizzell realizes he’s been snatched from outside a pub for forced albeit highly pleasurable sex, he tries to escape, and his story comes to an abrupt end. By that foreshortened standard, Suzana Noli is much luckier. When she makes her own escape attempt from the Corham brothel where she’s imprisoned, she kills one of her Albanian pimps and sends another to the hospital. Running from the building, she bursts into the middle of Corham’s annual May Sunday street masquerade and disappears into the crowd. But not before Nick Etherington, a college-bound student dressed as a traffic signal, sees her run, and DI Joni Pax, who’s been assigned to Pofnee ever since an abortive raid on a Brixton gang sent her career in the Met belly up, sees that Nick has seen her. Working very much at odds with DI Morrie Sutton, Joni questions the boy but can’t get him to disclose what she’s convinced he’s keeping back about what he’s seen. Suzana, meanwhile, is roaming the farms and fields around Corham, pilfering food and clothing and defending herself ferociously against anyone who gets in her way. Nick is falling in love with Evie Favon, daughter of the local squire. And those Albanian pimps have sworn vengeance, first against Suzana, then against Joni.
Though Alexander never persuasively connects Suzana’s enslavement to Gaz’s kidnapping, there’s much here for fans of darker-hued British procedurals to savor.