Alan Gregory is called to the ICU before anyone knows the patient's name or what dark demons drove her to attempt suicide. But fifteen-year-old Merritt Strait is no ordinary depressed teenager. The daughter of a hard-charging investigative reporter and a psychologist, she is also the stepsister of a little girl at the heart of a medical tragedy in the making. While Merritt clings to life in her hospital room, Chaney Strait lies near death in another hospital with an infection that is slowly destroying her heart. Denied an experimental new treatment that could save her life by the Straits' managed-care provider, Chaney has become a symbol of a health care system driven by costs, not care. And Alan believes that somewhere along the way, Merritt has gotten lost in all the media attention surrounding her younger sibling. But as Merritt begins to recover, yet still refuses to speak, Alan suspects that something else may lie behind her suicide attempt. Then a wealthy executive of the family's HMO is found dead ... and Alan and Denver detective Sam Purdy uncover shocking evidence that links Merritt to his death. With his wife, Boulder County D.A. Lauren Crowder, away helping out her ailing mother at the risk of her own fragile health, Alan must sort through the most complex and elusive case of his career, along with his own feelings of loneliness, anger, and helplessness.