It is spring, 1788. France is in crisis, the harvest fails. Young men and women flee from the countryside into Paris, where Anne Cartier searches for a missing acquaintance, Lucie Gigot, last seen in the Palais Royal with the Marquis de Bresse's valet. The trail leads to the marquis himself, a notorious libertine and disciple of the Marquis de Sade. But when Bresse is found dead in the Seine, Anne's quest turns into a murder investigation. Together with her husband Colonel Paul de Saint-Martin and his adjutant Georges Charpentier, she uncovers a vicious network of pimps, brothel madames, and corrupt policemen that traffics in human flesh.