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When Mark is invited back to Leila's flat and ordered to strip, he thinks he's about to have the experience of his life. Waking later he finds Leila gone from his side. Keen to leave, he opens the wrong door and finds he's entered a nightmare; behind the swaying Barbie dolls that hang from the ceiling is the body of the girl he just had sex with. Rhona MacLeod's forensic investigation of the scene reveals the red plaited silk cord used to hang Leila to be a cingulum, a Wiccan artefact used in sex magick. Sketches of sexual partners hidden in the dolls provide a link to nine powerful men, but who are they? As the investigation continues, it looks increasingly likely that other witches will be targeted too. Working the investigation is the newly demoted DS Michael McNab, who is keen to stay sober and redeem himself with Rhona, but an encounter with Leila's colleague and fellow Wiccan Freya Devine threatens his resolve. Soon McNab realizes Freya may hold the key to identifying the men linked to the dolls, but the Nine will do anything to keep their identities a secret.
Lin Anderson has published several novels and one novella featuring forensic expert Dr Rhona MacLeod, which have been widely translated. Her short story Dead Close was chosen for the Best of British Crime 2011 and is currently in development as a feature film. Also a screenwriter, her film River Child won a student BAFTA and the Celtic Film Festival best fiction award. Currently Chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland, she is also co-founder of Bloody Scotland, Scotland's International Crime Writing Festival.