Tom Manners, one of Laura Peterson's elderly patients, persuades her to enlist Hawk's help - to find his stolen pocket watch. It once belonged to Heinrich Himmler, allegedly, and as such has considerable value.
Hawk considers it to be a petty theft and therefore of little interest to him, but within days of poking around the thief is found murdered. The police believe Tom's bad temper and dangerous behaviour make him the obvious suspect. He's arrested and charged with the murder of a young, itinerant Frenchwoman known only as Marianne.
For Hawk it's all too straightforward. He digs deeper, driven by an uneasy feeling that if he'd kept out of it the girl would still be alive. And as he digs he uncovers a far, far bigger crime than a stolen pocket watch watch, or even murder.