It is July 2003 and a 14-year-old boy, John, is the victim of a near-fatal stabbing in Altrincham near Manchester. His 16-year-old friend Mark is the chief suspect. But why would a teenager who has never been in any trouble try to kill his best friend?
An incredible story emerges of how Mark has been recruited over the web to be a secret service agent by a spy mistress called Janet Dobinson. She promises him sex and riches if he passes an initiation test: to kill his friend John. The schoolboy is propelled into a world of espionage; his bland suburban surroundings become a landscape of mystery and intrigue.
But in court, facing charges of attempted murder, Mark finally learns the truth – Janet and a host of other people he met on the internet are all fictitious characters invented by someone bent on manipulating his every move. But who would know enough to trick him into attempting murder?