Hollis Joplin, a death investigator with the Milton County Medical Examiner's Office, is back on the job after being attacked and almost killed three months earlier. But he almost wishes he'd stayed home when he's called to a scene that's unlike any he's ever encountered before. Libba Ann Woodridge, the young, beautiful widow of a much older Atlanta businessman, has been found in her bed, covered in blood. Blood that has spattered everything around her, including the walls and ceiling. And to make matters worse, she's a client of Tom Halloran's, the high-powered attorney who made Joplin's life miserable during the murder investigation that almost killed him.
It's enough to make him want to go home and call in sick, especially since he's dreading having to see Dr. Carrie Salinger again. Their budding romance was derailed by Carrie's affair with Joplin's best friend, Jack, who's now dead. And then, of course, there's that damned colostomy bag he has to wear.
Reluctantly, Joplin is once again pulled into a collaboration with Halloran that will involve more deaths, a lot more blood, and a ruthless serial killer who may have ties to Atlanta's art scene. They are guided by the expert hand of Jimmy Hernandez, a nationally acclaimed bloodstain expert who's called upon to try to figure out what really happened to Libba Ann, a former beauty queen, and another young woman whose body is found behind a gas station. The scenes are eerily alike, although the victims' circumstances couldn't have been more different.
While Halloran deals with members of Arliss Woodridge's family who are trying to overturn his will, Joplin tries to discover the connection between the two women and is led to a mysterious painting found in the bedroom of a prominent doctor murdered five years earlier. As usual, they keep secrets from each other. Secrets that will ultimately put both of them--and Carrie Salinger--in grave danger once again.