Newly graduated photography student Lori Maddox chooses to spend the year after university travelling and visits China where she finds casual work as a private English tutor. Back in Manchester, her parents Joanna and Tom, who separated when Lori was a toddler, follow her adventures on her blog, 'A slacker's guide to China'.Lori can be impulsive and disorganised so when, after three months, she stops replying to texts and emails, doesn't Skype or update her blog there is no immediate cause for worry. But when the silence persists Joanna and Tom become increasingly concerned. It is impossible to find out anything from 5,000 miles away so they have to travel out to Chengdu, a city in the south-western province of Sichuan, try to and find their daughter.Landing in a totally unfamiliar country, with no knowledge of the customs or language, and receiving scant help bordering on indifference from the local authorities, Joanna and Tom are forced to turn detective, following in their daughter's footsteps, tracing the people she mentioned in her posts, interviewing her friends, colleagues and students. It's an unbearably difficult challenge, made harder as all the reasons for the breakdown of their relationship twenty years earlier resurface with a vengeance.When a woman's remains are discovered close to the last sightings of Lori it appears that they have found their daughter and a murder inquiry is launched. Devastated, they wait for the police to solve the case, desperate to know who killed Lori and why. But nothing is straightforward and there are more shocks to come before they can leave for home . . .