When a very poor young maquila worker is murdered in Ciudad Juárez, México, it appears in many respects to be another cartel murder. Moises Calderón, detective with the Chihuahua State Police, believes the motive lies elsewhere. Relying on instincts and experience, but with minimal evidence, he begins his search for the real reasons. The priority for a prolonged investigation into a single murder is low, given the excess violence throughout the city. But Calderón has personal reasons to persist, believing that his city is being destroyed by unchecked lawlessness; if he dismisses an individual murder as another unsolvable example of hate, violence, and criminal power, then he is an accomplice to that destruction. His investigation, leading him to an influential maquila in Juárez, provides him with allies he accepts and enemies whose insolence and powers he neutralizes, though at a price. The case involves forces on both sides of the border and influences his country has long come to tolerate. The outcome does not satisfy his sense of the law, but he accepts it all the same, with disappointment and with an understanding that, in the circumstances, it is all he can expect.