Dr. James Verraday is a professor of forensic psychology specializing in eyewitness recall and criminal profiling. He's a brilliant original thinker with a passion for social justice and a very antagonistic relationship with authority, especially the police force. So when Detective Constance Maclean appears in Verraday's lecture hall at the end of one of his classes, he bristles. But the body of a young woman has just been found in a cranberry bog south of Seattle, and Maclean is convinced that this murder is tied to an earlier killing.
The Seattle police already have a suspect in custody for that case, but Maclean suspects the lead detective is knowingly putting away an innocent man to boost his numbers and quiet his critics. Verraday reluctantly agrees to use his skills as a profiler to help out with the investigation—if only to satisfy his own conviction that law enforcement is riddled with corruption. They form an unlikely alliance and soon find themselves tied up in a deadly game to find a serial killer whose wealth and influence make him almost untouchable.