Brinkvale Psychiatric Hospital art therapist Zach Taylor is endlessly curious, perhaps to a fault. When his cheerful elderly patient Gertrude “Spindle” Spindler completes her latest quilt and informs Zach that a 30-year-old "grand design of nine" has just concluded, Zach’s curiosity is piqued ... and he soon embarks on a quest to unwind the meaning of the woman's cryptic phrase.
He isn't expecting a descent into a world filled with mystery and ruthless subcultures -- and he isn't expecting to be haunted by Spindle's coy clues. What is The Great Blade of Blood? What are The Charred? What is the grand design of nine? And who is the dark-skinned stranger stalking Zach at every turn, threatening his life?
The answers may lie in Spindle's granddaughter, a willowy self-proclaimed psychic named Hen. But Zach soon discovers that Hen may be crazier than the patients he treats ... and the treasure he's pursuing may be more dangerous -- and deadly -- than he ever imagined.