Controversial writer Patricia Neville has returned to her old hometown, writing a new novel that bases its characters on the local people of Ballarat. The book reading at the local library quickly devolves into screaming and chaos. She is found dead the next morning with her sister Eve unconscious beside her, seeming to be a murder-suicide that was not completed. Blake searches out truths about the sisters, cursed with fatal breast cancer. Patricia was poisoned, and did not die of the cancer. The poison ruined Patricia’ s behavior with others before killing her. The librarian proves to be the poisoner, jealous that some of her local story ideas appear in the new book. Charlie’s careful search of evidence at the scene holds the clue, the chip of nail polish. Blake learns that his wife is unwilling to sue for divorce as the current law requires her to name an adulterer, which Mei Lin will not do. Blake has more options, but Jean likes none of them. Ned Simmons learns to be helpful to the detectives.