The sleepy town of Heartsdale, Georgia, is jolted into panic when Sara Linton, the town's pediatrician and coroner, finds Sibyl Adams, a young college professor, dead in the local diner. As well as being viciously raped, Sibyl has been cut: two deep knife wounds form a lethal cross over her stomach. But it's only once Sara starts to perform the postmortem that the full extent of the killer's brutality starts to become clear.Police chief Jeffrey Tolliver -- Sara's ex-husband -- is in charge of the investigation, and when a second victim is found, crucified, only a few days later, he has to face the fact that Sibyl's murder wasn't a single personal attack: They're dealing with a sadistic rapist turned killer who is terrorizing rural Grant County.Jeffrey isn't alone in his search. Lena Adams -- the county's sole female detective -- wants to see justice done since her sister was the first victim. Sara, too, cannot escape the terror. A secret from her past could hold the key to finding the killer -- unless he finds her first.