Mexico City independent detective Hctor Belascoarn Shayne is summoned back home from vacation by his sister, whose childhood friend Anita has been raped and nearly killed by unknown assailants. Hctor soon discovers that Anita, recently married into the wealthy Costa family, has just seen her husband and his two brothers systematically murdered. Now, Anita stands in line to receive a legacy of some 200 million pesos if she can stay alive long enough to receive it. During his investigation, Hctor trades stories with novelist Paco Ignacio (who bears no little resemblance to Taibo), who is writing a crime novel based upon the recent murder of fourteen narcotraficantes and has traced the crime directly back to Judicial Police Commander Saavedra. Taibo weaves these two seemingly disparate threads together into a novel that stretches the boundaries of the crime genre and poses the question: how does a detective operate in a society in which the social and political institutions designed to protect the people are hopelessly corrupt?