Dr. Kay Scarpetta is about to head to Miami for a vacation when she notices seven pennies on a wall behind their home. Is this a kids' game? If so, why are all of the coins dated 1981 and so shiny they could be newly minted? Then she learns there's been a homicide five minutes away. A high school teacher was shot with uncanny precision as he unloaded groceries from his car. Yet no one heard or saw a thing.
Soon more victims surface. The shots seem impossible to achieve, yet they are so perfect they cause death in an instant. There is no pattern to indicate where the killer will strike next. First it was New Jersey, then Massachusetts, and then the murky depths off the coast. There she comes face to face with shocking news that implicates her niece, Lucy—Scarpetta's own flesh and blood.