A killer terrorizes the San Francisco opera, and Toby Peters may be his next victim The year 1942 is a bad time to stage Madama Butterfly . Although Puccini's masterpiece is a perennial favorite of the San Francisco opera crowd, its sympathetic depiction of a Japanese girl causes tension in the dark months following Pearl Harbor. Newspaper editorialists rage against the production, opera buffs picket the theater, and a note appears nailed to the house door, threatening violence against the cast and crew. When the first workman dies, the maestro calls Toby Peters, a Los Angeles detective who works discreetly for Hollywood's rich and famous. Two days remain before the opening night, and the body count continues to rise. As he hunts for this self-styled phantom of the opera, Toby falls for one of the company starlets. They must tread lightly, or risk a death more dramatic than anything Puccini ever dreamed of.