At the beginning of her professional career, when she accepted a scholarship from the Air Force to pay off her medical school debt, Scarpetta found herself ensnared in a gruesome case of hate crimes against two Americans in South Africa. Now, more than twenty years later, her secret military ties have drawn her to Dover Air Force Base, where she has been immersed in a training fellowship to master the art of CT-assisted virtual autopsy—a procedure the White House has mandated that she introduce into the private sector.
As the chief of the new Cambridge Forensic Center in Massachusetts, a joint venture of the state and federal governments and MIT, and Harvard, Scarpetta is confronted with a case that could shut down her new facility and ruin her personally and professionally. A young man drops dead, but when his body is examined the next morning, there are stunning indications that he may have been alive when he was zipped inside a pouch and locked inside the Center's cooler. When 3-D radiology scans reveal more shocking details about internal injuries—ones that suggest the possibility of a conspiracy to cause mass casualties—Scarpetta realizes that she is fighting a cunning, cruel, and invisible enemy. Now it is a race against time to discover who and why before more people die. From the Compact Disc edition.