A "Bury the Hatchet" party in a wealthy enclave north of San Diego, California, ends with a hatchet buried in the head of the hostess. Bishop Bone takes the case at the request of ex-client, Vivian, who is actually being blackmailed. She wants Bone to solve the case before the police can link her to the dead woman.
A homeless man was seen lingering around the edges of the party, but a ring of burglars was also active in the area at the time of the hostess's death. Suspects abound. Bone goes undercover as a homeless person to find the truth, but before he can do that a second woman-also a party attendee-is found dead.
Both corpses were involved in the recently resolved, very controversial campaign to rid the children's pool in La Jolla of seals. The victims were also substantial investors in a medical implant company founded by Vivian's ex-husband. Bone soon realizes there is a lot more to this matter than murder, but by then, he's already become the next target.