There's no cure for murder. Commissario Alec Blume, on health leave and fleeing his partner Caterina, has retreated from Rome to central Italy. At the Villa Romanelli he enrolls on a natural remedies course conducted by a young woman named Silvana. But far from recuperating or resolving his differences with Caterina, a feverish Blume becomes isolated and sluggish with sickness. Increasingly ill-at-ease in the stifling environment, the dark history of the crumbling villa and its once-magnificent gardens draws him in. And when a Romanian girl who works for Silvana's ambiguous fianc Niki asks for his help, Blume finds himself dragged into the shadowy case of a missing girl, and the secret horrors of the garden's malign beauty.