It is 2002 and little Penelope Scratchford has been abducted in Italy. The Italian State Police has given up its investigation and believes her parents to be responsible for her disappearance and her probable murder, but cannot prove it. The British authorities believe she is still alive, as does the UK Press. In order to reopen this cold case, Europol offers its assistance. Detective Chief Inspector Michael Lambert – now retired from Thames Valley Police – is sent to Rimini as a Europol Liaison Officer, in order to assist the Italian police in re-opening their investigation.
His quest takes him from Rimini to Greece and the River Evros, where illegal migrants frequently cross over from Turkey. Following this recognised people smuggling route, his investigations also take him to Bulgaria, where he discovers a crooked adoption racket. Finding some promising leads to the whereabouts of the little English girl, he is able to establish if she is alive or dead.In Rimini, Michael Lambert also discovers disquieting information about his late father’s wartime exploits in Italy and once more, finds new romance in his life.