Lincoln Rhyme has travelled to a world-famous spinal cord injuries center in North Carolina for some risky, experimental surgery. It may make him a tiny bit better, it may kill him. But before he has a chance to undergo it, the local police department are drafting in Rhyme and Amelia, using their forensic skills to help find two women kidpapped by a psychotic young man known locally as the Insect Boy. After a cat and mouse game through the abandoned swamps of North Carolina, Lincoln and Amelia manage to find him - then Amelia, convinced of his innocence, breaks the boy out of jail. And Lincoln has to find them both, while Amelia uses all the skills her mentor and lover has taught her to evade him. Her actions are to have more disastrous consequence than either of them anticipate . ..