A serial killer "makes" perfect women by amputating their legs. A troubled girl walks knowingly into the killer's arms.
An ambitious college president spirals toward madness. Helen Ivers is still reeling from her sister's recent suicide when she takes a position as the president of Pittock College. The isolated campus seems like a good place to recover, but shortly after she arrives, two severed human legs are found bound to the train tracks. The local police explain away the gruesome occurrence, but Helen is convinced the police chief, and maybe the whole town, is covering for a killer. She embarks on her own investigation, but she begins to doubt herself as nightmares of her sister's suicide become waking hallucinations and everyone discounts her fears.
The only person who shares her apprehensions is a young professor whose aggressive sexual advances are as frightening and alluring as impending madness - a woman who is either Helen's only ally or the killer.