After her last harrowing case Kate Martinelli is more than ready for a quieter life with her longtime lover Lee, but everything changes when she's called to the scene of a carefully executed murder. Half-hidden in a clump of bushes lies a well-muscled corpse, handcuffed and strangled, with a candy bar in his pocket. The only person who might have wanted airport baggage handler James Larsen dead seems to be the wife he repeatedly abused, but her alibi is airtight. And when a second body turns up - also zapped, cuffed and strangled, but with no obvious connection to the first - Kate and her partner Al Hawkin are stumped.
The investigation's going nowhere when Kate has another cause thrust upon her by her friend, feminist minister Roz Hall, who's convinced that a young Indian bride has been murdered. As Kate wrestles with the clash between her personal and professional lives a third killing draws her and Al into a network of pitiless destruction that reaches far beyond San Francisco, revealing a hit list with shudderingly primal roots.