Thirty nine steps rose from the busy road of Tuborgvej into Mindelunden, with its quiet graves and abiding bitter memories. Lennart Brix, head of the Copenhagen homicide team, felt he'd been walking them most of his life. Beneath the entrance arch, sheltering from the icy rain, he couldn't help but recall that first visit almost fifty years before. A five-year-old boy, clutching the hand of his father, barely able to imagine what he was about see ...The bark of a dog broke his reverie. Brix looked at the forensic officers, white bunny suits, mob hats, marching grim-faced down the rows of graves, towards the space in the little wood where the rest of the team was gathering ...Three gnarled stakes, replicas now, with the originals in the Frihedsmuseet. A woman was tied to the centre pole, hands behind her back, bound with heavy rope round her torso. Blonde hair soaked with rain and worse, head down, chin on chest, crouched awkwardly on her knees. A gaping wound at her neck like a sick second smile. She wore a blue dressing gown slashed in places all the way to the waist, flesh and skin visible where the frenzied blade had stabbed at her. Her face was bruised and dirty. Blood poured from her nostrils, had dried down each side of her mouth, like makeup on a tragic clown ...It is two years since the notorious Nanna Birk Larsen case. Two years since Detective Sarah Lund left Copenhagen in disgrace for a remote outpost in northern Denmark. When the body of a female lawyer is found in macabre circumstances in a military graveyard, there are elements of the crime scene that take Head of Homicide, Lennart Brix, back to an occupied wartime Denmark -- a time its countrymen would wish to forget. Brix knows that Lund is the one person he can rely on to discover the truth. Reluctantly she returns to Copenhagen and becomes intrigued with the facts surrounding the case. As more bodies are found, Lund comes to see a pattern and she realises that the identity of the killer will be known once the truth behind a more recent wartime mission is finally revealed ...