Since the events of the previous novel, attorney Mickey Haller has spent a year recuperating from his wounds and a subsequent addiction to painkillers. He is called back to the practice of law when an old acquaintance, defense attorney Jerry Vincent, is murdered. Haller inherits Vincent's caseload, which includes the high-profile trial of Walter Elliott, a Hollywood mogul accused of murdering his wife Mitzi and her German lover. Haller secures this "franchise" case, persuading the mogul to keep him on as counsel by promising not to seek a postponement of the trial, which is due to start in nine days.
Meanwhile, maverick LAPD detective Harry Bosch, the main character in several earlier novels written by Connelly, is investigating Vincent's murder. Bosch, warning that Vincent's killer may come after Haller next, persuades the reluctant lawyer to cooperate in the ongoing murder investigation. Meanwhile, Haller shakes off the rust, and lingering self-doubts, as he prepares for the double-murder trial.