Pendergast--the world's most enigmatic FBI Special Agent--returns to New York City to investigate a murderous cult. William Smithback, a New York Times reporter, and his wife Nora Kelly, a Museum of Natural History archaeologist, are brutally attacked in their apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Eyewitnesses claim, and the security camera confirms, that the assailant was their strange, sinister neighbor--a man who, by all reports, was already dead and buried weeks earlier. While Captain Laura Hayward leads the official investigation, Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta undertake their own private--and decidedly unorthodox--quest for the truth. Their serpentine journey takes them to an enclave of Manhattan they never imagined could exist: a secretive, reclusive cult of Obeah and vodou which no outsiders have ever survived.