Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne's first encounter with Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson was in the hospital emergency room on a freezing December night. A newborn infant had been abandoned on the church steps. That night in the hospital was the beginning of an attraction so fierce, so forbidden, that the only thing that could keep them safe from compromising their every belief was distance - but in a small town like Millers Kill, distance is hard to find. Russ Van Alstyne figures his wife kicking him out of their house is nobody's business but his own. Until a neighbor pays a friendly visit to Linda Van Alstyne - and finds the woman's body, gruesomely butchered, on the kitchen floor. To the state police, it's an open-and-shut case of a disaffected husband, silencing first his wife, then the murder investigation he controls.