Mexico City detective Héctor Belascoarán Shayne is summoned home from vacation by his sister, whose childhood friend Anita has been raped and nearly killed by unknown assailants. Héctor discovers that Anita, recently married into the wealthy Costa family, has just seen her husband and his two brothers systematically murdered. Now, if she can stay alive long enough to receive it, Anita stands in line to receive a legacy of some 200 million pesos.
During his investigation, Héctor trades stories with a novelist who is writing a crime novel based upon the recent murder of fourteen narcotraficantes and has traced the crime directly back to Judicial Police Commander Saavedra. How can a detective operate in a society in which the social and political institutions designed to protect the people are hopelessly corrupt?