For Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, returning to the Sussex coast after seven months abroad was a delicious anticipation. There was even a mystery to solve - the unexplained disappearance of an entire colony of bees from one of Holmes' beloved hives. But the anticipated sweetness of their homecoming is quickly tempered by a bitter memory from her husband's past. Mary had met Damian Adler only once before, when the promising surrealist painter had been charged with - and exonerated from - murder. Now the talented and troubled young man is enlisting their help again, this time in a desperate search for his missing wife and child. From suicides among the Standing Stones to a bizarre religious cult, from the demi-monde of the Cafe Royal at the heart of Bohemian London to the dark secrets of a young woman's past on the streets of Shanghai, Russell will find herself on the trail of a killer more dangerous than any she's ever faced - a killer Sherlock Holmes himself may be protecting for reasons near and dear to his heart.