Detective Van Veeteren and his associates are left bewildered by the curious murder of a man shot twice in the heart and twice below the belt. Revenge seems to be the motive, in this chilling novel filled with deception, blackmail, and murder.
A secretive and dubious religious sect comes under investigation when a young girl is found dead. Inspector Van Veeteren and the other detectives on the case are mystified and infuriated when the members of the Pure Life--led by a charismatic but unnervingly guarded messiah figure--choose to remain silent about the incident rather than defend themselves.
When Janek Mitter wakes up from a night of too much alcohol and sex, he must break into the locked bathroom, where he finds his wife dead in the bathtub. Suffering from amnesia as a result of his drinking, he falls into a lethargic state that lasts throughout his murder trial, conviction, and imprisonment in a mental hospital. Detective Chief Inspector Van Veeteren launches a new investigation when Mitter is murdered.