Fifteen years ago Susan Blacklock disappeared. Although Detective Inspector Frank Elder has taken early retirement, the case still plagues his mind. Prime suspects, Shane Donald and Alan McKeirnan, were convicted a year later of the brutal rape and murder of a young girl, and now that Shane has been granted parole, Elder feels compelled to revisit the past. Then Shane disappears and another young girl is murdered. Elder's involvement is now crucial. Taunted by postcards from the killer, an increasingly desperate Elder battles to keep his estranged family from being drawn into the very heart of the crime.