NOTE: Another great Book Spoiler was sent in by Indiana Reader
FBI agent and psychologist Alex Cross is called in when Hollywood stars are being brutally slain and mysterious emails are sent from their killer, Mary Smith. He tries to make sense of the clues and the killer's fascination with the victim's perfect lives and relationships with their children.
The children seem to hold the key to the crime. So Alex zeroes in on that aspect and soon tracks down a hotel maid, Mary, who many years ago killed her own three "perfect" children and was committed to an insane asylum, but escaped in time to start committing the crimes!
At the same times as the murder spree, Alex juggles his own demons of a dissolving relationship with old flame Jamilla Hughes, a court struggle with third child Alex Jr's mother, and trying to keep the bonds with his older children strong. Plus he begins a new romance with a local lady doctor that everyone endorses.
Finally clues kick in and Alex realizes that the insane child-killer isn't the real culprit, but it has really been the first murder victim's husband all along. The other victims had also "done him wrong" through various other business dealings and he was just getting even. However, just as Alex is relating this to his FBI partners from deep in the Vermont woods, he is jumped by the killer. He gambles by crashing his car. The killer and Cross struggle for awhile, Cross is shot, the killer is slain.
Grandma Nana pleads with Alex not to make his children orphans and the book ends with Alex just out of the hospital promising that will not happen.