When the privileged daughter of a merchant banker disappears, a search through her e-mails uncovers her secret life-and a bizarre correspondence with an on-line game player who delights in macabre puzzles. The first game was for the girl. The next one is for Inspector John Rebus, a man haunted by the impenetrable riddles of his own troubled past. But the lead is soon complicated by an unexpected twist.
A hand-carved wooden doll in an eight-inch coffin is found on the grounds of the victim's home-a clue that links her vanishing to the deaths of four other women, and to a centuries-old offense that still scars the grisly history of Edinburgh.
From the shadowy world of an Internet stalker to the quicksand of lies in the missing girl's dissolute family, Rebus is led into the soul of evil. And to a shattering crime that only he, a man who treads the fine line between investigative brilliance and personal oblivion, could ever hope to understand.