Child psychologist Thelma Vestrey inherits a number of seriously disturbed teenage patients when she takes up a new post in Paradise Bay, California. The most difficult of these, Richard Delacroix - rich, spoilt, aggressively anti-social - seems to be beyond her help.It is not until Richard's mother, Aurelia, begs Thelma to help protect her son from his own father that she begins to suspect that the boy may be in great danger. There is something terribly wrong in his family.Thelma's worst fears seem to be confirmed when Aurelia's body is found. It looks like suicide; Thelma knows that it could be murder. Joining forces with FBI agent Daniel Kozgrow, she finds herself caught up in a case far beyond her experience: a macabre and hideously dangerous journey through the grim recesses of an extraordinary family history.