Lincoln Rhyme, a New York City detective specializing in forensics, was once the country's leading criminologist. Following a near-fatal injury in the line of duty, Rhyme is left bed-bound, his arms and legs useless, and with little will to live. Feisty, street-smart policewoman Amelia Donaghy is only in her early twenties but already feels aged beyond her years. On the eve of being transferred to a desk job, her last call as a street cop leads her to a crime scene and the discovery of a gruesomely-mutilated corpse. After taking a look at the physical evidence file and the photos therein, Rhyme is intrigued with the case. On the first day of her new job, Rhyme has Amelia pulled against her wishes and reassigned to assist him on the case. An unlikely pairing at first, Donaghy must become Rhyme's eyes, ears and legs, scouring horrific crime scenes for evidence as they race against the clock to prevent the next hideous act of this brutal killer.