When 12-year-old Joseph Coyne is missing and is assumed to have been abducted, Detective Parker makes a promise to the boy's mother: We'll get him back, alive. It proves to be a promise that Parker cannot keep. When another young boy is missing under similar circumstances, the evidence leads Parker to an aviary or bird yard attached to an abandoned house. While the finches imprisoned in the aviary exert a magical appeal to the young boys who surreptitiously come to watch them, its owner is a shadowy figure whose hold over his young visitors seems far more sinister. Convinced that the killer is stalking his third victim, a child Parker knows, he enlists the help of a child psychologist to unravel a dark secret.