These are the worst of times for Lieutenant Chris Spell, once acclaimed as San Francisco’s premiere homicide investigator. At the heart of his beat, the City’s chaotic Mission District, women are being systemically murdered, their bodies mutilated and dumped on neighborhood doorsteps. Spell can find no connections in the case, no leads, and no way to stop the carnage.
Understaffed, desperate, and beleaguered by the press, the Lieutenant quickly assembles a rag-tag task force to take on the investigation. He recruits the station’s forensic psychologist, borrows an old friend and fellow investigator from a neighboring District, and convinces a young, inexperienced beat-cop to join his team. Unfortunately, they are no match for the careful, determined killer.
Over the next two months, the murders continue, with Spell’s investigators always a step behind. The serial killer becomes more brazen, more lethal, and begins sending cryptic, threatening letters to the press and Spell’s task force. In a stunning act of mayhem, he kidnaps the youngest member of the team, a woman who has an uncanny resemblance to the half dozen victims he has already claimed. Out of options and out of time, Spell formulates a plan to get her back and bring the killer down, but the price of the plan could cost the life of a second member of his team. Worse, Spell’s prey has already made a last, shocking plan of his own—one that none of his pursuers had considered.
In a final confrontation orchestrated by the serial killer, Spell’s world collapses when he learns the real motivation behind the murders and realizes that the means to put an end to the bloodshed has been within his grasp since the first day of the investigation.