On a winter’s evening, a trio of unruly teenagers board a bus, ganging up on Luke Murray, threatening to kill him. No one intervenes until Jason Barnes, a young student, challenges the gang. Luke seizes the chance to run off the bus, but he’s followed. Andrew Barnes is dragged from the shower by his wife Valerie: there’s a fight in the garden and Jason’s trying to break it up. As Andrew rushes to help, the gang flees. Jason shouts for an ambulance for Luke, but it is he who will pay the ultimate price.
As Valerie and Andrew are faced by the devastating loss of their only child, their grief affects them in different ways.
Staincliffe writes perceptively and compassionately about the damage sustained by the still living victims of murder, the families of two young men left to try to come to terms with devastating loss, yet her treatment of the survivors treats their grim struggle so respectfully that the reader is moved rather than depressed by entering their world.