A young boy discovers a bone in a snow-covered forest. Initially, Quigley Maguire thinks it could simply be that of an animal. But it belongs to a young girl who has been missing for three years.
Quigley’s father, Frank, an ex-detective who now works as a private investigator, has hidden from his son his responsibility for his wife’s death. When he confesses the truth to him, Quigley runs from his home into the worst snowstorm for decades.
Frank’s search for his son brings him into contact with Jeremiah Grazier and his drug-addicted wife, Judith, a damaged refugee from an orphanage who now sees herself as an avenging angel.
Meanwhile, in the derelict orphanage, a tramp discovers a sexually mutilated and decapitated corpse, later identified as that of the grotesquely abusive head warden of the institute.