""...a prime example of how quality crime can be written well and with yet contain a social message on the state of urban America.""
When VI Warshawski is asked to find a teenager who went missing during the civil rights riots in 1967, her first instinct is to refuse the case. Not only has too much time elapsed since the disappearance but the mother and aunt of the boy remain tight lipped about the circumstances of the vanishing. Was Lamont Gadsden a member of the infamous Anacondas gang for example? As usual, however, the case piques Warshawski's interest and she begins to peel away it's layers.
There are people who have never forgotten the young Lamont and are willing to hand over the little information that they have. However, attacks on her life and the death of an elderly nun soon convince her that there are people still alive today with a vested interest in keeping secret the truth about Lamont's disappearance.
When Petra, her glamorous cousin from Kansas, arrives in Chicago as a political intern secrets begin to emerge about Warshawski's family that she finds hard to credit. Can her moral policeman father really have been the bent cop that others are making him out to be? Determined to restore her father's reputation and find the elusive Petra, Warshawski is also forced to confront the buried grief for the loss of her mother who died when she was a teenager.