The distraught mother begging 1940s private investigator Maggie Sullivan for help is married to a crime boss who has plenty of reasons to want the detective dead. His past clashes with Maggie left both nursing simmering resentments. And Maggie killed one of his men to save the life of a vital witness.
Now Nico Caras swears he’ll let bygones be bygones if she’ll find his daughter Adrianne, who disappeared off a city street after lunch with a friend. The police aren’t likely to help, and would use it as an excuse to nose into his business affairs. Besides, there’s been no ransom demand, nothing to suggest foul play. If Maggie won’t help, who will?
Adrianne’s sisters suggest the girl might have eloped with an old flame, or run off to escape an unwanted engagement. A more likely scenario is that it has something to do with her father’s plans to relinquish some of his criminal enterprises. But Maggie thinks the reason goes deeper still. The more she learns, the more she thinks the girl is on the run because she’s in danger.
As she searches for answers, Maggie also is attempting to help a young veteran damaged by war. Those efforts take a back seat when a bullet misses Maggie by inches and two murders twist her case in new directions. Both homicides have messy links to Caras, to a rival of his, and to the girl she’s hunting.
With the case demanding her attention night and day, and her concern for Adrianne’s safety growing, how can the detective even consider the additional role of wife and stepmother which the man who has loved her for years is urging? She needs all her concentration to rescue an innocent pawn in a game where the other side kills.