At first it appears a mugging gone horribly wrong: one man dead and a woman left in a coma one Friday night in Washington, D.C. The woman is Arlington police detective Frank Mancini’s niece and lives in the boarding house run by retired FBI-agent-turned-landlady Ethel Fiona Crestwater. Ethel and Frank are old friends, and so she volunteers to investigate the crime on Frank’s behalf, as his hands are tied by jurisdictional issues. But what appears at first a random robbery soon proves more diabolical. Then the Chief Justice’s life is threatened, and Ethel and her double-first-cousin-twice-removed Jesse Cooper will have to breach more than boundaries as they investigate a case that could have supreme consequences—for the nation and for their own lives.