Cornwell delivers a high-stakes Kay Scarpetta novel with an intrigue that will take Kay an ocean's length away from home. The nightmare begins when a cargo ship arriving at Richmond's Deep Water Terminal from Belgium is discovered to be transporting a locked, sealed container holding the decomposed remains of a stowaway.
The autopsy performed by Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta initially reveals neither a cause of death nor an identification. But the victim's personal effects and an odd tattoo take Scarpetta on a hunt for information that leads to interpol's headquarters in Lyon, France, where she receives critical instructions: Go to the Paris morgue to receive forbidden, secret evidence and then return to Virginia to carry out a mission. It is a mission that could ruin her career.