The night the first snow falls a young boy wakes to find his mother gone. Inspector Harry Hole is convinced there is a link between the disappearance and the menacing letter he received some months earlier. As Harry and his team delve into unsolved case files, they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. When another woman disappears Harry's suspicions are confirmed - he is a pawn in a deadly game. For the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his turf, a killer who will drive him to the brink of insanity.