Boston private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are hired to find four-year-old Amanda McCready.
Despite extensive news coverage and dogged investigation into her abduction, the police have uncovered nothing. The case is rife with oddities: Amanda's indifferent mother, a couple with a history of paedophilia and a shadowy police unit. As the Indian summer fades, Amanda McCready stays gone - vanished so completely that she seems never to have existed.
When a second child disappears, Kenzie and Gennaro face a local media more interested in sensationalizing the abductions than helping to solve them, a local police force seething with lethal secrets, and a faceless power determined to obstruct their efforts. Caught in a deadly tangle of lies, and determined to unravel the riddle that is anything but child's play, they soon discover that those who go looking for the missing may not come back alive.