Leona "Leo" Reese is a 33-year-old police patrol sergeant who has been sidelined temporarily, at least she hopes it's temporary. She's failed a shooting qualification test and has been reassigned as an investigator to the Department of Human Services, the state's watchdog many institutions, including independent living facilities. When an older woman suffering from Alzheimer's is murdered in such a facility, Leo finds herself back in the police business.
At the same time, other aspects of Leo's life are in a whirl. Her partner Daria is a criminal defense attorney. With Leo's unwanted work reassignment and Daria's long hours preparing for an important trial, there's a lot of stress at home. Add to the mix the blinding headaches that Leo has been getting, the reason, it turns out, that Leo has failed her shooting test. It's almost a blessing that Leo can focus on the murder and less on what has been happening to her personally. "'Welcome to the International House of Zombies,'" Daria says at one point.
Eleanor Sinclair doesn't see the blessing in the situation, however. It is her partner, Callie, who has been murdered. Although Eleanor is capable of living independently outside of a facility, she retired from teaching high school and took a room at the Rivers' Edge Apartments, which "is nowhere near any rivers or edges," to be close to her companion of 40 years. Who would want to kill a retired high school cook with no money to speak of?
It is easy to be drawn to the characters of Leo and Eleanor as they struggle through both their personal problems and catching Callie's killer. They are both independent women with a large capacity for empathy, no doubt the reason both were good at and satisfied with their jobs.