Against her own judgement, Kay Scarpetta agrees to return to Virginia as a consultant pathologist on the case involving the death of a fourteen-year-old girl. Soon Kay is investigating the probability that someone is after those closest to her.
Dr Kay Scarpetta returns to the city that turned its back on her five years ago. Richmond, Virginia’s recently appointed chief medical examiner claims that he needs Scarpetta’s help to solve a perplexing crime. When she arrives, however, Scarpetta finds that nothing is as she expected: her former lab is in the final stages of demolition; the inept chief isn’t the one who requested her after all; her old assistant chief has developed personal problems that he won’t reveal; and a glamorous FBI agent, whom Scarpetta dislikes instantly, meddles with the case.
Scarpetta is faced with investigating the death of a fourteen-year-old girl, working with the smallest pieces of evidence – traces that only the most thorough hunters can identify. She must track the strange details in order to make the dead speak – and reveal the sad truth that may be more than even she can bear.