When Jake Summers, a university student, is viciously attacked and left for dead, newly promoted D.I. Fiona Brightman finds herself on the trail of a couple of young thugs embarked on a spree of brutal assaults. But soon the violence escalates and first a child and then a middle-aged woman are murdered in Hangman's Wood, with a fourth person missing: young and attractive Natalie Gower. With time running out, can Brightman, dealing with a tricky marriage and still grieving from the death of her four year old daughter, stop the killers and find Natalie before they strike again? Brightman's search for the killers take her as far afield from her home county of Suffolk to the Scottish borders and the Kent coast, at one point endangering her own life during a frantic chase through the notorious Hangman's Wood.