Two young women have been found dead. The medical reports reveal that they both had twenty-four stab wounds in their mouths, and that they drowned. In their own blood. With traces of the same sedative in the victims' bloodstreams, pressure is mounting on the police to put the killer behind bars. But the Oslo police force has another problem: the only man who can solve the case doesn't want to be found. Deeply traumatised by an investigation that threatened the lives of those he holds most dear, Inspector Harry Hole has lost himself in the squalor of Hong Kong's opium dens. When he learns his father is on his deathbed, Harry reluctantly agrees to return to Oslo. He has no intention of working on the case, but his curiosity gets the better of him when a prominent MP is found brutally murdered in a city park. Soon Harry is caught up in the web of a violent killer who will stop at nothing to escape justice.