When the bodies of young courting couples start turning up in remote woodland areas, Chief Medical Examiner Scarpetta is unable to determine the cause of death. Then the daughter of one of the most powerful women in America goes missing.
In Richmond, Virginia, young lovers are dying. So far, four couples in the area have disappeared, only to be found months later as mutilated corpses. When the daughter of the president's newest drug czar vanishes along with her boyfriend, Dr Kay Scarpetta knows time is short.
Following a macabre trail of evidence that ties the present homicides to a grisly crime in the past, Kay must draw upon her own personal resources to track down a murderer who is as skilled at eliminating clues as Kay is at finding them.