The body of a homeless man is discovered in the River Seine. A verdict of suicide has been ruled out because the victim’s hands have been pierced and his side sliced open with a knife.
Lieutenant Gombrowicz attends the autopsy, his throat tight with disgust, while the coroner delights in a body that reminds him of the Italian painting of Andrea Mantegna. The victim’s name was Mouss. He had made the headlines shortly before Christmas as he and other homeless had flooded the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral to shelter from the cold. The police had eventually used a heavy hand to evacuate the homeless.
The examining magistrate, Claire Kauffmann, is responsible for shedding light on the murder. In an effort to find out what happened to poor Mouss, she contacts Father Kern. He had been in charge of the cathedral that Christmas and had in the end stood up for Mouss and his horde of social outcasts. Claire finds the pallid priest buried in the archives where he is unearthing and sorting out items that have been thrown on the scrap heap. He hopes in this way to restore the memories of these impoverished individuals. Eaten away by the guilt of having allowed the evacuation and haunted by his memories of Mouss, he refuses to take part in the investigation. Will the paths converge of Claire and Father Kern, who are both thirsty for justice?
In this new investigation, each protagonist is backed into a corner and the oldest preconceptions are shaken. No one gets out unscathed…not even the reader.