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When heavy rainfall unearths a corpse buried ten years or more on a mountainside separating West Los Angeles from the San Fernando Valley, Jake catches the call. In need of forensic expertise, he appeals to his estranged lover Joanna for assistance. Despite troubles of her own, she agrees to help him on this and a recent killing that left a wealthy industrialist dead, apparently at the hands of a violence-prone intruder, in his Brentwood home. Although deeply concerned about the deteriorating health of younger sister Kate (suffering from a viral affliction contracted while on an archaeological expedition in Central America) and an alarming incidence of organ transplant fatalities at Memorial Hospital (her professional base), Joanna bears up, providing Jake with valuable clues on the anonymous remains and slain millionaire (whose treacherous trophy widow is subsequently slaughtered along with a small-time actor in a cheap motel room). Kate's liver soon begins to fail, and the distraught Joanna must rely on a concern called Donors International to supply an immediate replacement. While a legal enterprise apparently operating within the law, uncommonly prosperous DI proves a decidedly secretive organization, one that may have, yes, skeletons in its closets. Jake and Joanna eventually pierce the corporate veil to expose the horrific for-profit endeavors of Donors International. Before doing so, however, they must do personal battle with a mob-connected surgeon, excessively entrepreneurial scientists, and a villainous physician who takes a decidedly broad view of the phrase "homegrown."
Shock value and more from Goldberg, a clinical professor at UCLA Medical Center who has the anatomy of ingenious murders down pat.