The story unfolds as a band of homeless people cremate a beloved dog in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. When it comes to incidents like this, the authorities are willing to overlook a few broken regulations. But three weeks later, after the dog's owner gets the same fiery send-off, the SFPD knows it has a serious problem on its hands.
Other than the fact that they're dealing with a particularly grisly homicide, Inspector Kate Martinelli and her partner, Al Hawkin, have little else to go on. They have a homeless victim without a positive ID, a group of witnesses who have little love for the cops, and a possible suspect, known only as Brother Erasmus.
Kate learns that Erasmus is well-acquainted with the park's homeless and with the rarefied atmosphere of Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union, yet he remains an enigma to all. It's apparent that he is by no means crazy--but he is a fool. Kate begins the frustrating task of interrogating a man who communicates only through quotations. Trying to learn something of his history leads her along a twisting road to a disbanded cult, long-buried secrets, the thirst for spirituality, and the hunger for bloody vengeance.
Street kids are disappearing, but how do you report that to the police when, from their standpoint, the missing people didn’t exist to begin with? Hustle is certain that something bad has happened to his friend Jinx, and the only person he can turn to for help is private investigator Shaye Archer.
Because Hustle helped the young PI while she was investigating her first case, Shaye has already formed an opinion as to his character and believes he’s telling the truth. As she digs deeper into Jinx’s disappearance, she discovers that Hustle’s friend isn’t the only one missing. As a frightening pattern emerges, Shaye wonders if she can find the missing kids…before it’s too late.