Susan Silverman, who still works in Smithfield, asks Spenser to help with finding April Kyle, a teenage girl who has run away from home.
Mrs. Kyle wants to see her daughter back home. Mr. Kyle never wants to see her again.
Spenser, once more faced with a couple of stubborn, clueless, suburban parents he despises, takes the job for Mrs. Kyle's sake.
He interviews local teenagers, and finds out April used to be friendly with another drop out called Amy, who now lives in Boston with a Mitchell Poitras.
April has been spotted in Boston where her father claims she has become a prostitute. Spenser talks to some of the girls in the Combat Zone and soon finds out from one of them that April's pimp is called Red. While investigating he has a fight with one of the pimps and his life is threatened. He keeps trying, with Hawk helping to scare off the bad guys, talks to Red, but April is not at the Boston address he gives him for April.
Spenser also interviews Amy, April's old friend, but does not get any information out of her. She seems brainwashed.
Talking to one of the girls again, he finds out that April has been “bad”, and has been sent to a house in Providence as a punishment. He goes there passing out as a tourist in search of entertainment, and finds her in one of the whorehouses. She escapes with him, but run away again during the trip to Boston (not willing to be handed out to her parents).
He decides to watch Amy's place, and when she and Mitchell Poitras go away, he breaks in, finding out that Mitchell Poitras is an executive in Student Guidance and that he makes teen porn on the side and promotes prostitution. Soon, April appears on Poitras doorstep. Spenser and Susan try an intervention, but the girls don't want to go back home.
After this, a neighbor's dog gets killed, and left in Susan's kitchen. Is that a warning?
Hawk accompanies Spenser when he visits the local mob boss, Tony Marcus. They leave with the promise that Susan is safe, and that Spenser can take Poitras out of business as long Poitras does not reveal his links to prostitution and Tony Marcus.
Susan wants Spenser to blow the whistle on Poitras activities right away. Spenser wants to save April from Poitras and from her parents.
This report prepared by Lydie Barquet