She was found stabbed to death on a quiet, shaded street in one of Los Angeles' safest neighbourhoods. For three months the police have found no clues to the murder of Hope Devane, psychology professor and controversial author of a pop-psych bestseller, and angry indictment of men. Now homicide detective Milo Sturgis, newly assigned to the case, turns to his friend, psychologist Dr Alex Delaware, looking for insights into Devane's life. To both men the cold stalking of Hope Devane suggests calculation fuelled by hate - an execution. They discover why as they unlock, one by one, the very private compartments of her life: her marriage, her shadowy work for a Beverly Hills clinic, the Conduct Committee she ran with an iron hand at the University, and her baffling link to another murder victim. But it is when Alex delves into her childhood that he begins to understand the formidable woman she was - and the ties that entangled her life until the horrifying act of betrayal that ended it.