An arson in New Rhodes reveals the body of Julia Mae Jefferson, an eight-year-old African American girl in the city’s North Central District. Jack LeClere, the top homicide detective in the New Rhodes Police Department, is paired with a new partner for the case, Clyde Burris, a former New York City homicide-turned-New Rhodes PD Internal Affairs detective. Jack and Burris have a mutual distrust of each other, but that’s the least of their worries. In the heat of the ashes of that row-house, the search for a brutal killer awaits.
New Rhodes is a city on the edge. An influx of new police recruits aren’t adjusting to the community they serve. A fight during a protest at a defunded community center begins a back-and-forth struggle between the New Rhodes Police and the North Central community that threatens the relationships that Jack and Burris need to find leads in Julia Mae’s case, including the already fractured relationship with the community’s lead activist, Marcus Ellison. A well-intentioned move by Jack to help with her funeral backfires as Ellison discovers the true nature of her murder that same day.
Julia Mae’s world was one of neglect—of a child, and in fact, many of the North Central children—falling through the cracks. Jack and Burris follow her through those cracks and discover an underbelly of abuse and an industry of exploitation in the guise of a daycare center called Mount Vision. Jack and Burris, through their own struggle to build trust in a city where little can be found, find something that even the most cynical activists could never have imagined—a true wolf in sheep’s clothing, and a monster with an SS tattoo and a rebel flag in his window.
To give Julia Mae justice, Jack, Burris and Marcus Ellison must make a temporary peace, and the city must come face-to-face with the fruits of its indifference.