As the story unfolds we learn that Gwendolen was one of those females whose life was determined and controlled by her overbearing father. After her mother died, she was expected to take care of Mr. Chawcer and never to strike out on her own. Unfortunately, he lived to the ripe-old age of 94, thus never giving his daughter a chance to meet people, especially men. He had made up his mind that she was not "marriage material" and would be better off reading and learning how to take care of him. Despite her isolation and naiveté she fell in love with the young doctor who cared for her father. But once the old man died, she never heard from him again. Nevertheless, she carried a torch for him for 50 years and over time it became a heavy burden for her.
And since her father died, she has lived alone in a few of the many rooms in the house she had grown up in. For her, the structure is familiar and she really doesn't see the crumbling wallpaper, peeling paint, or very out-of-date appliances (which she never uses anyway), nor does she feel the cold. Mix is her first border and he is not happy with his situation. He thinks he can hear "drippings and droppings, moths chewing, flakes falling, splinters, rust mildew turning to dust." He bemoans his fate at ever having stepped over the threshold of this place. But once he allows his fantasies to purge any hold on reality he ever had, he has only one purpose and that becomes his whole focus.
Mix, who takes his women where and when he can get them, meets a gorgeous model, Nerissa Nash. As soon as he sets eyes on her, he knows that she must be his and he begins to stalk her. Nerissa is clueless for a good portion of the story, though readers can guess what is going to happen and it is not good. Mix is also obsessed with a notorious doctor who not only performed abortions 50 years ago, but also killed the women he butchered and indulged in the act of necrophilia before he buried them. He is Mix's idol, and Mix takes strength and inspiration from the collection of books he owns that are all about the infamous doctor.
Readers get to meet a number of supporting players, including Madame Shoshanna, the phony and sadistic "psychic" who meddles with an eye toward trouble; Danila, the young woman Mix meets at a spa and begins to date; and the customers Mix calls on to fix their exercise equipment --- mostly women --- and with whom he indulges in a little extracurricular recreation. But none of this is really important to him. He is fixated on Nerissa to the point where his obsession pushes him over the line from a very neurotic young man to a dangerous psychopath.
This report prepared by eyal