It's been twenty years since Police Detective Alan McAlpine has set foot in Patrickhill Station-and more than twenty years since he fell forever in love with the mute, faceless woman he called Anna as she lay dying in Glasgow's Western Infirmary. Daily, he'd watched over her, and they had begun to communicate with each other, she by moving her wounded fingers. Her fingers could not tell the sad, unseasoned police cadet her name, however, or name for him the father of her newborn baby girl or identify the assailants who had flung the acid in her once incomparably beautiful face. Or tell him how she'd smuggled a cache of uncut diamonds into Scotland.|
Now McAlpine is back in Patrickhill, where he's been summoned to head up the investigation of a disturbing murder case. Two women-their arms outstretched, their legs together and feet crossed at the ankle-have already died at the hands of a man the press has tagged the Crucifixion Killer. More gruesomely, the third victim will also have been violently disfigured when her body turns up in Whistler's Lane, coincidentally (perhaps) the scene of an equally brutal murder four years earlier.
The face of another woman, though-a strikingly beautiful young woman, blonde-has taken hold of McAlpine's consciousness, and soon the consequences of a case cold for two decades are commanding-and dangerously thwarting-the course of his team's current, already desperate investigation.
As crimes in the present intersect with iniquities committed in the past, the mystery in this steely, piercing, psychological thriller is as gripping as its twists are surprising. And absolution proves to be extreme.