Fourteen-year-old Sarah Becker has been abducted, snatched from a busy shopping precinct in downtown LA. Judging from the state of the girls whose bodies have already been found, her long hair will be hacked off and she will be tortured. She has about a week to live.Former homicide detective John Zandt has an inside track on the perpetrator; his own daughter was one of the victims two years ago. But the key to Sarah's whereabouts lies with Ward Hopkins, a man with a past so secret not even he knows about it. His parents have just died in a car accident, but they leave Ward a bizarre message that leads him to question everything he once believed to be true.
As he begins to investigate his own past, Ward finds himself drawn into the shadowy, sinister world of the Straw Men, and into the desperate race to find Sarah, before her time runs out.
"A new beginning for a major British writer, whose crime debut instantly moves him into the Thomas Harris division." (The Guardian)
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