For centuries the ceremonial order of the Knights of the Tarasque have met to bear the effigy of a mythical beast through the Provencal town of Tarascon. But one summer's night the ceremony is disrupted by a gruesome discovery: a mutilated body found at the feet of the effigy, apparently torn apart by enormous teeth and claws. Could it be that the monster of legend is more than just myth? The case draws an unwilling Michel de Palma, called 'the Baron' by his colleagues in the Marseille murder squad, into the dark heart of Provence, where mythology is part of everyday life. As more dismembered corpses appear, de Palma falls into a world coloured by murky financial intrigues and the tortured history of post-occupation France. It is a world where de Palma's uninvited investigations could soon see him in mortal danger.