Christmas Eve in Central Park, Temple Brooks Gault stands over his latest victim, washing his bloody hands in the snow. Pleased with his new kill, he lifts the heavy steel door of an emergency exit and disappears into the fetid tunnels of the New York subway system.
In Richmond, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, chief medical examiner of Virginia and consultant for the FBI, is in the midst of a late night autopsy at the morgue when the call comes. Gault, the sadistic psychopath who has eluded capture for years, has struck again. For Scarpetta, her worst nightmare returns.