Every year since the death of his wife, Detective Kimmo Joentaa prepares a glass of milk and a bottle of vodka to arm himself against the isolation of Christmas and the harsh Finnish winter. But this Christmas Eve, his lonely routine is interrupted: first by the unepxected arrival of a damaged young woman and then by the murder of two men - one of them Joentaa's colleague on the police force.
Finnish detective Kimmo Joentaa is called to the local hospital in which his young wife died several years before. An unidentified woman in a coma has been murdered by someone who wept over the body, their tears staining the sheets around her. The death marks the start of a series of killings, with the unknown patient at their centre. As autumn turns to winter, and Christmas fast approaches, Kimmo's attempts to unravel the case and identify the first victim are complicated by the disappearance of his sometime girlfriend, who has vanished after a party thrown by the head of the police force, and by a colleague's spiral into the depths of a gambling addiction.