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The girl puts an eye to the keyhole and watches the man she thinks is an alien making love to her mother. Who is to blame for allowing him inside? Gloria! Gloria must be punished! Punishment is a familiar thing! Sally smashes her head, pulls out her eyes and buries her doll in the bin.
The story relates the aftermath of domestic abuse; the emotional neglect of cruel and dispassionate parents, and a young girl, convinced that happiness can be restored by making people laugh. Sally hides behind her image of Miss Flummi the clown and becomes a brilliant performer in the vibrant and colourful world of the circus. But don't kid yourselves! Her mind is troubled; her behaviour is bizarre and her habits are strange. The devil demands revenge when atrocities refuse to be buried.
Detective Inspector Nicholas Lightbone, called Nickbone, investigates a number of fatal accidents connected with Sally. But were they all accidents?