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When Eugene DeLint, the head of Omphalos, the world’s dominant philanthropic organization, is found murdered, Detective Kevin Beldon is called in. Beldon, who readers will be familiar with from Lynch's previous novels, Missing Children and Troutstream, has been on medical leave, and he brings along much personal and professional baggage: his wife Cynthia is a recent suicide, his absent son Bill is a disappointment, and his daughter Kelly, who began her legal career at Omphalos, is emotionally distant with him. Kevin is still disturbed from his failure the year before to have solved the so-called Widower serial killings. He still suspects that the escaped Widower was connected to Omphalos, and secretly he views Eugene DeLint’s murder as a last chance to solve the Widower case and so absolve his wife of the sin of suicide.