Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers is at a loss: The daughter of her friend Taymullah Azhar has been taken by her mother, and Barbara can't really help -- Azhar never married Angelina, and his name isn't on Hadiyyah's birth certificate. The trail a private detective follows goes cold. Five months later, Hadiyyah is kidnapped from an open air market in Lucca, Italy, and this triggers an investigation in the full glare of the media spotlight. Barbara's clever manipulation of the worst of London's tabloids forces New Scotland Yard to become involved. But rather than Barbara herself, her superior officer Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley is assigned to handle a situation made delicate by racial issues, language difficulties, and the determination of an Italian magistrate to arrest and convict someone -- anyone -- for the crime.