A former doctor, Grace Descanso, has changed jobs and is now a criminal scene investigator. She is called to a suspected murder scene.
During the inspection, her two colleagues and a drug agent are butchered by a mental patient. Descanso shoots the killer and is accused of using excessive force.
Fearing that the police are not eager to prove her innocence, she decides to investigate the killer and find the motive for the murders.
Her young daughter Kathy is kidnapped, and she has to play the timer game to get her back.
Descanso enlists the help of her former mentor, Dr Warren Pendrell, who is more interested in a medical breakthrough that will make millions at his medical research centre.
She races against the clock in the timer game to unearth clues to the murders and to free her daughter.
She relies heavily on her AA mentor for help. Her ex-lover, who is Kathy's father, is intent on televising the medical scoop that will establish his career as a hard-hitting journalist.
The book ends when both threads of the mystery coalesce.