"I've got a weird one, so naturally I thought of you," says Milo Sturgis, summoning his friend Alex to the trendy gallery where a promising young artist has been brutally garroted on the night of her first major showing. What makes it "a weird one" is the lack of any obvious motive, and the luridly careful staging of the murder scene - which immediately suggests to Alex not an impulsive crime of passion, but the meticulous and taunting modus operandi of a serial killer.
Delaware's suspicion is borne out when he compares notes with Milo's associate, Petra Connor, and her new partner Eric Stahl. The Hollywood cops are investigating the vicious death of Baby Boy Lee, a noted blues guitarist, fatally stabbed after a late-night set at a local club. What links Baby Boy's murder with that of painter Juliet Kipper is the shadowy presence of an abrasive fanzine writer. This alias-shrouded critic's love-the-art/disdain-the-artist philosophy and his morbid fascination with the murders leads Alex and the detectives to suspect they're facing a new breed of celebrity stalker: one with a fetish for snuffing out rising stars.
Tracking down the killer proves to be maddening, with the twisting trail leading from halfway houses to palatial mansions and to the last place Alex ever expected: the doorstep of his ex-lover Robin Castagna. With the rising of Robin's own creative star, her role assumes a chilling new importance - as a prime target for the psychopath who's made cold-blooded murder his chosen art form.
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