When schoolteacher Trixie Smith turns up asking questions about legendary film actress Lucretia von Wolff, Lucy Trent is not unduly alarmed. She rather enjoys the notoriety surrounding her glamorous but infamous grandmother, whose lovers were legion, whose scandals were numerous, whose life ended abruptly in a bizarre double murder and suicide at the Ashwood film studios in 1952. Trixie Smith has uncovered information which she believes throws new light on the Ashwood case. In particular, she wants to know more about Alraune, the illegitimate child Lucretia was alleged to have borne at the outbreak of WWII. The child whose existence is surrounded in mystery. The child who may never have existed at all. But Trixie Smith's enquiries are brought to an untimely end. Some days later, her mutilated corpse is discovered at the derelict site of the old Ashwood studios. In the ensuing murder investigation, Lucy is to discover disturbing facts about her family's poignant and often tragic history - a history which stretches from the glittering concert halls of 1920s Vienna to the bleak environs of wartime Auschwitz - and at the heart of it all lies the shocking truth about the mysterious child called Alraune.