Searching for truffles in a wood, a man and his dog unearth something less savoury. The body, as Chief Inspector Wexford is informed later, has lain buried for ten years or so, and the post-mortem can not reveal the precise cause of death. Wexford knows it will be a difficult job to identify the corpse. Although it covers a relatively short period of time, the police computer stores a long list of missing persons. People disappear at an alarming rate – hundreds each day. When another body is found nearby, the detection skills of Wexford, Burden and the other investigating officers of the Kingsmarkham Police Force are tested to the utmost to discover whether the deaths are connected and to track down whoever is responsible.