Miami-based private eye Willie Cuesta is feeling good. It's a clear, crisp January day, and he has a new client. And she's not just any old client; she's from Key Biscayne, a posh part of town. And when she insists on meeting at the Ritz Carlton, Willie knows this case could be good for his bottom line.
While Willie admires Carmen Vickers de Estrada's elegant, expensive jewelry, she quickly gets down to business. Colombian by birth, she—like so many others from her country—has suffered at the hands of kidnappers. Her husband was killed while resisting abduction. Her son José was held for seven months before she was able to pay a small fortune for his release. And now, though they are living in Key Biscayne, she fears that someone may try to snatch her son again. She wants Willie, a former Miami Police Department detective, to provide protection for José and his gorgeous girlfriend Catalina whenever they leave the estate.
After several boring days of scrutinizing waitresses, hairdressers and grocery store clerks, Willie is ready to find Doña Carmen another security service. But when four men toting automatic weapons take Catalina in broad daylight, Willie is left to explain how she was kidnapped on his watch.
As the Estrada clan waits anxiously for the ransom demand, Willie discovers that things don't add up about the family he has been hired to protect. Does Catalina, a poor but beautiful guajira, or country girl, have ties to Colombia's guerrilla factions? Could José's cousin Cósimo, rumored to be a paramilitary leader in Colombia, be involved in the kidnapping? And is there a connection between the Estrada family's fortune, cocaine bosses and construction projects?
Before long, Willie is on the receiving end of automatic weapon fire from goons running the gamut from narcos to leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary groups. Finding himself tied up in the trunk of a car, Willie can't help but wonder if he'll soon be on hallowed ground—the place where he will meet his end.