Midwinter. A child is found wandering in an ancient woodland, her hands covered in blood. But it is not her own. Unwilling - or unable - to speak, the only person she seems to trust is the young officer who rescued her, Detective Sergeant Lucy Black. Soon afterwards, DS Black finds herself moved from a high-profile case involving the kidnapping of another girl, a prominent businessman’s teenage daughter.
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Lucy Black must protect the young and vulnerable... but can she protect herself? Late December. A 16-year-old girl is found dead on a train line. Detective Sergeant Lucy Black is called to identify the body. The only clues to the dead teenager's last movements are stored in her mobile phone and on social media - and it soon becomes clear that her 'friends' weren't what they claimed to be. Lucy is no stranger to death: she is still haunted by the memory of the child she failed to save, and the killer she failed to put behind bars.
Detective Sergeant Lucy Black is visiting her father, a patient in a secure unit in Gransha Hospital on the banks of the River Foyle. He's been hurt badly in an altercation with another patient, and Lucy is shocked to discover him chained to the bed for safety. But she barely has time to take it all in before an orderly raises the alarm - a body has been spotted floating in the river below.... The body of an elderly man in a grey suit is hauled ashore: he is cold dead.