When a wealthy banker's daughter goes missing from Edinburgh University, Detective Inspector John Rebus has little to go on in his investigations. It's difficult to know whether she's dead or alive, whether she has been kidnapped or is simply on the run. Before long, however, Rebus has a hunch that there is more to this missing person's report than meets the eye.
His first clue is found in the student's home village: it is a carved wooden doll lain inside a six-inch coffin. When details emerge of the girl's involvement in an Internet role-playing game, DC Siobhan Clarke ventures into the lair of the Quizmaster, a place from which she will struggle to escape.