A partially decomposed body of a young woman is discovered in a park in Pasadena, California. The woman was strangled but not sexually assaulted. The police suspect she might be a missing heiress who disappeared over a year ago, but dental records prove them wrong. But who is she? And is there a link between the heiress and this corpse? The celebrated detective Virgil Tibbs reshapes the known facts regarding these two women and discovers astonishing connections. His quest leads him around the world to Katmandu where, beneath the searing "eyes of Buddha" at the famed Monkey Temple, he learns the truth in a striking denouement.