Why should a man lift a finger-much less risk his life-for a mother who abandoned him as an infant? But when a mortally wounded Mexican passes Doug Sutherland a scrawled note, he must overcome resentment and phobias to save her, recover a priceless pre-Columbian artifact, and battle a ruthless smuggler.
For Sutherland, a thirty-something Chicago entrepreneur, the note is meaningless. The warning that his Mexican mother is in danger puzzles him. Even if it is true, why should he care? She deserted him thirty years ago. Besides, his life is already complicated by his relationship with his girlfriend, a deadline for his real estate project, and a recent rash of nightmares. In these vivid dreams, a "burning man" stalks him, then he's trapped in a small space, and thrown into an icy grave.
Doug tries to convince himself that the message was meant for someone else. But then his apartment is invaded, he receives threatening calls from a Mexican smuggler, the police accuse him of drug dealing, and a DEA agent harasses him. Sucked into a maelstrom, he must fight-or become a victim.