The year is 1880, the place San Francisco. Intelligent, outspoken Sarah Woolson is a young woman with a goal and the fortitude to achieve it. The fourth child, and only daughter, of a Superior Court Judge for the County of San Francisco, she has always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. The trouble is, everyone believes women belong in the home, that it is not only unnatural, but against God's will for them to seek a career.
When Sarah finagles an interview with one of the city's most prestigious law firms, no one thinks she has a prayer of being hired. Except Sarah. Using her brains, and a little subterfuge, she not only manages to be taken on as the firm's newest (and only female) associate attorney, she also acquires her first client - a lovely young society matron suspected of brutally stabbing to death her wealthy but abusive husband. When Sarah agrees to represent the woman, she discovers that her beautiful client has a secret lover, and that they both had ample reason to want to see hubby dead. Everyone is convinced the two are cold-blooded killers, including the handsome, burly Scottish attorney who becomes Sarah's nemesis at the firm. But Sarah is undeterred. She's sure her client is innocent, and no matter what, she's determined to prove it!
When four more victims fall prey to the killer's knife - and her client is arrested for the crimes - Sarah fears she's bitten off more than she can chew. Without Sarah's help, the young woman will almost certainly be put to death, but proving her innocent will be an uphill battle. Bucking her boorish employer, the judicial system and the gruff Scot, Sarah finds herself embroiled in shady legal maneuvers, a daring Chinatown raid, a secret and very scandalous sex club, a mysterious tontine agreement, and the most powerful and dangerous Tong Lord in the city's Chinese District. Not to mention her arrogant brother Frederick's ambitious run for state senate.
Utilizing her keen mind and ready wits, Sarah takes on all adversaries. One hard-earned clue at a time, she bravely tracks a ruthless killer, constantly thwarted by the very people who should be on her side. When the murderer threatens to kill his sixth, and loveliest victim, Sarah is forced to run a desperate race against a ticking clock.
Single-handedly she fights not only to free her client, but to discover the killer's real identity. But when she finally corners the Nob Hill murderer, Sarah discovers that she is in grave danger of becoming victim number seven.