Raphael LaFontaine's parents were "root workers," hoodoo practitioners who sold potions, infusions, vapors and spells in Beauregard Parish, Louisiana. Both before and while she was pregnant with Raphael, Malina LaFontaine ingested the herbs and roots that were her and her husband's stock and trade.
Perhaps as a result of this, from early childhood Raphael was afflicted with strange visions and fever dreams. He grew up considering himself a freak masquerading as a normal person, but his condition sometimes allowed him to see deeply into other people's emotions and personalities. Both a curse and a gift, these talents have served Rafe well, first as a Baltimore police officer and then as private detective.
The story begins with a frayed-at-the-edges lawyer who asks Rafe to help his client with a simple matter, a hard to get rid of ex-boyfriend who also happens to be a Baltimore cop. When Rafe sets out to meet his new client he is attacked and when he wakes up he finds that nothing is what it had seemed, and that he is suspected of murdering a complete stranger.
Rafe soon becomes even more deeply entangled in a confusing web of lies and murder.