When the murder of a fourteen-year-old homeless boy rocks the small town of Ashland, Oregon, Detective Winston Radhauser is desperate to make an arrest. The boy, Tadeas Phan, is found stabbed through the heart on a bench near the pond in Lithia Park. One week earlier, another victim, also stabbed, was found in the Shakespeare theater courtyard. Both had empty Starbucks coffee cups beside them. The press has already dubbed them the Starbucks murders.
Maxine McBride, Radhauser’s partner, discovers a homeless man, crouching behind the park restroom. His clothing is blood soaked and he clutches a knife in his hand. She is convinced the man, Michael Cornelius, is the Starbucks killer.
Cornelius, known as Corndog, is a former police officer, a Vietnam vet who suffers from PTSD. He is a hero, having received both a purple heart and a bronze star for his service. The evidence against Corndog is daunting, but no matter how hard Radhauser tries to make the pieces fit, he can’t find a motive for the killings. His boss, pressured by the mayor, wants the case closed and insists Corndog be arrested.
The case is officially closed. But Radhauser can’t let it go. He risks everything, even his job, to investigate further. The closer Radhauser gets to the truth, the harder it is to believe. Will he find the real killer, free Corndog, and reunite him with the family he left behind?