Dr. Eric Parker has reached the peak of success in his career, leaving thousands of dead bodies in his wake. As chief medical examiner in Los Angeles, it couldn't have been any other way. He is determined and aggressive, choosing forensic medicine because it is a "field in which a man with ability, with vision, could rise rapidly to the top of his profession." It also puts him in a field where he doesn't have to get along with patients. And that's a good thing. Diplomacy plays no part in Parker's life.
John Duffy, a TV comedy superstar, drowns during a routine, solitary 6 a.m. swim in front of his Malibu beach house. His ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, series co-star, and psychiatrist attest to drug use and despondency. After initial investigation twists between calling the death accidental, possibly drug related, or suicide, Parker finds his comments distorted by the press. Pressed on one side by an irate supervisor clamoring to have the case quickly dispatched and on the other side by his own conscience that worries about suspicious abrasions on Duffy's torso, Parker launches his own investigation.
As a star of rising brilliance, Duffy attracted many people, and most were out to gain from his success. In the dirty Los Angeles brew of cocaine, extraordinary wealth, and the intense pressure of celebrity, each member of Duffy's circle elicits Parker's suspicion. His perception and persistence draw him through a labyrinth of shady business deals, monumental greed, and disregard for life. Parker becomes a hunter following the trail past fresh kills, always traveling safely behind the action until the moment he identifies and confronts the perpetrator.