Detectives Goren and Eames investigate the shooting murder of a deputy mayor while sitting in his parked car.
During the investigation, the detectives find the body of a woman social worker who was with the victim at the time of his death. The finger of suspicion immediately points to a drug addict father who just had his kids taken away earlier in the day by the worker, but it turned in a smoke screen. They are soon led to her involvement in a rigorous program for the education of gifted children.
When the detectives look deeper into the case, they learn that the worker had taken special interest in a 10-year-old mathematical prodigy, whose ambitious, obsessive father has pushed him into increasingly difficult and lucrative academic competition for admission to a prestigious, accelerated school. Then, Goren believes the man had reasons to kill the worker before her report could be submitted to the school.