Maricel Salizar, a twenty-one year old exchange student from the Philippines, is found dead on the banks of the Rawlings River. She has been stabbed, and there is river water in her lungs.
Karen Seagate and her partner, Ryan Miner, start their investigation with Al Gerson, the provost of Central Montana State University, whose family had been hosting Maricel. The detectives are concerned when they learn that Gerson has not revealed that he served his mission in Manila twenty-one years ago.
But there are other suspects. Hector Cruz, Maricel's boyfriend, has a substantial criminal record--as well as a gang tattoo on his chest. Al Gerson's son, Mark, a paranoid schizophrenic who spends all his time writing an online game version of the Book of Mormon, appears to have had some unwholesome thoughts about Maricel. And Amber Cunningham, Maricel's "Big Sister" on campus, calls her a bitch.