Whenever the phone rings before dawn something big is probably up, and the fact
that Anita Blake has been up all night dealing with zombies doesn't make this
call an exception. "Ted Forrester needs backup from Anita Blake, vampire
executioner," Edward tells her, using the pseudonym he keeps for those rare
times when he needs a legal identity. And she owes him favor. So by noon she's
on a plane to Santa Fe, sun-drenched town of wealthy retirees, where in the last
two weeks twelve people have been murdered. The dead ones had it easy; other
victims have been completely flayed, but kept horribly alive by magic. Seeing
them in the hospital, Anita feels uncharacteristically shaken.
Edward's "Ted Forrester" identity has her nearly as spooked as the crimes; He's working with the local police, courting a likeable widow with two kids, and generally making like a good ol' boy. Anita knows the real nature he's hiding beneath his mask of normality-and she finds "Ted" perhaps more frightening than Edward.