The novel is written in three parts: "The Fingernail," "Morbid Urges," and "Laws Unknown." Each of these three parts has a number of chapters which tell the story from Clare’s past and present.
In "The Fingernail," widow Clare travels to Havana, Cuba. She is there to attend the Festival of New Latin American Cinema. In particular, she wants to see the screening of the first Cuban-made horror movie, Revolucion Zombi. Her late husband, Richard, was a professor of film studies and a horror film expert. He wanted to see the film himself but was killed in an accident five weeks earlier. On the third day of her trip, Clare is horrified to see Richard standing outside a museum. She approaches him and ends up chasing him until he escapes on a motorbike. A couple of days later, she sees him again and follows him to an apartment, where she watches him reading a book through a window.
In "Morbid Urges," Clare finds her husband in a cafe. He is being watched by another man. For the next few days, she follows him around the city. She also breaks into his apartment and hides in a cupboard, watching him all night. She finds a train ticket and follows him onto the train the next day. Richard sees her and passes her a piece of paper with the number of a hotel room and a time written on it. They meet in the room and end up going to bed together. However, in the middle of the night, Clare attacks Richard and he disappears.
In "Laws Unknown," Clare continues her trail of Richard and follows him to a river. Richard walks into the river and allows himself to be swept away. Clare follows him into the water, but he has disappeared once more. She returns to New York but has lost her job due to her extended absence. She moves to Florida to live with her parents.