Clara Pascal has suffered through an abduction and imprisonment that has left her so fearful that she has become alienated from her husband and young daughter. She has abandoned her pursuit of criminal cases for the relative safety of family court cases. Although readers never learn many details of what happened to her, she believes that several people died because of her arrogance.
The murder of a young mother in Clara's hometown of Chester is blamed on a man who spent twelve years in prison for a similar murder. Photographs found in a police search of his flat seem to prove that he was stalking the victim. When the murder weapon is found discarded nearby, his fingerprints are on the plastic-wrapped handle.
Clara becomes involved in this case through her efforts to help a man gain visitation rights to his illegitimate daughter. The mother of the child was the murder victim, and the father's wife claims that Clemence, the accused killer, was stalking her as well. As Clara pursues their case, she immerses herself in Clemence's background. When the couple fires her, she finds out all she can about the case and tentatively agrees to represent Clemence.
Evidence points to a conspiracy involving at least one police detective and a multimillion dollar development project, and Clara slowly starts to believe Clemence's claims of innocence. When a mob with vigilante justice in mind storms the prison where Clemence is being held, Clara is locked into his cell with him. He helps her face her fears and she pulls off a ruse that saves him from harm. But even her investigation and the facts she uncovers do not prepare her for the moment when the real killer confesses.