It’s autumn in upstate New York, cool and crisp, when the beautiful and shapely Julian Palmer, 27, arrives in the small town of Canaanville to replace the retiring legendary police chief Winston ‘Bear’ Edwards, 260 pounds of brute force and unquestioned authority. 

            Julian barely has time to settle in before Sarah Langley, a very attractive but troubled young waitress, is murdered.   Although not slated to begin her work as chief for two weeks, Julian volunteers to become the lead investigator.  Bear makes it his business to guide Julian as she tries to determine the various players in a small town where everybody knows everybody’s business.  In effect, Bear becomes a mentor to his inexperienced replacement.  Both detectives become obsessed by the murder, a woman sliced and diced in a stomach-turning crime of vicious passion.

            Frustrated by lack of evidence, Bear accepts the aid of Wayne Hill, a psychic who uncannily visualizes aspects of the case that only the police know.  As the investigation progresses, Julian feels a strong attraction for Bear.  At the same time, the case triggers haunting memories of the unsolved murder of her father when she was 13 years old.  That tragedy shaped the purpose of her life – to find the truth at any cost.  Her mentor’s intuitive sense of her buried pain throws her off balance and ignites a self-destructive attraction toward someone twice her age.

            Just when Julian feels a growing temptation to yield to her desire, Estelle Edwards, the chief’s intimidating wife, invites Julian to move out of her room at the Ramada and stay in their barn apartment, until she can find a permanent place.  The invitation also makes it easier for Estelle to keep the potential lovers in view.  This proximity allows Julian to get a glimpse of Bear’s dark side.  Her feelings shift from infatuation to fear.  She also starts to get a sickening feeling that Bear was involved in the murder of Sarah Langley.

            Which is when Bear makes the arrest.  Their helpful psychic turns out to be an impostor, a sociopath who had developed an obsessive relationship with his victim and then enjoyed leading the police around by the nose.  The townspeople can finally rest easy, all except Julian who still believes they’re holding the wrong man in the dark underbelly of the town jail.  On her own time, she pursues the investigation, but must tread lightly, out of fear for her own safety.

            The mortal game is on as the apprentice races to outwit her mentor before becoming his next victim.  It’s a quietly desperate battle, filtered through erotic attraction, investigative logic and psychic intuition, and only the final beats will reveal the ‘last man’ standing. 

            Alone with the killer in the snowy woods, Julian pulls off a shattering twist that will spoil the retirement party of the legendary Bear Edwards.