Rachel deeply regrets letting her eight-year-old  run ahead of her while walking in the woods. Ben Finch disappears, leaving almost no clues except his clothing, which was found near a pond. 

Britain’s CID know this case is serious after a detective finds the child’s clothing. Macmillan details the police procedure expertly and poignantly sifts the mother’s sorrow.

Jim, who is assigned the case by a hard-nosed boss, really wants to move up the ranks of the CID; this case, if its handled right, could help him do that. 

Unfortunately for him, the press conference at the start of the investigation is a disaster. Rachel, the boy’s mother, goes off message. She unwittingly does everything under the sun to make herself look guilty.

Macmillan spends a great deal of effort making other key players look suspicious. Rachel’s sister, Nicky, seems unstable as does the teaching assistant at Ben’s school. Someone despises Rachel enough to send bricks through her windows and smash her milk bottles on her front step. But is this the person who took Ben? 

Rachel was trying to allow Ben independence when she let him run ahead on their walk. Now, Rachel finds herself rethinking that decision–as well as everything in her life–because nothing is as it seems.