"She had been in school uniform the first and last time Judy had seen her alive, and she had wondered what it would be like to be her mother. Now, she thanked God she wasn't."
Detective Inspector Judy Hill had seen the girl that evening, talking and laughing with friends on the bus home. Now she lay dead in the glaring arc-light of a scene-of-crime investigation; beaten, strangled, and possibly raped.
Oakland School is Stansfield come sunder a no less glaring spotlight as Judy and Detective Chief Inspector Lloyd begin their investigation into the murder of Natalia Ouspensky, aged fifteen, on a piece of open parkland in the centre of town.
It is an enquiry which will uncover the secrets of staff and pupil alike, not least Natalia herself; and enquiry which will produce suspects and motives but to no witnesses; an enquiry which will deeply affect the lives of the innocent, but might well fail to convict the guilty.
An enquiry, it seems, which is not going to yield a single shred of evidence . . .