On a hot August afternoon, in an East Side apartment, a woman is found hanged. Carefully placed red candles and an enormous quantity of dead flies suggest some kind of bizarre ritual. By some cruel miracle, the victim lives, but remains in a coma ...Kathy Mallory does not recognise her immediately. Fifteen years have pased since Kathy lived on the streets of New York, succoured by hookers and thieving to survive. Now she has traded in her plastic pellet gun for a .357 revolver and a police badge. No one is allowed to call her Kathy anymore. Just Mallory. Once upon a time, a junkie whore and police informer, known simply as Sparrow, had cared for a young street urchin when she was lost and alone. Now Mallory finds that she is staring her bitter past in the face, as she pursues a case which also has its origin in an unsolved murder committed years ago ...