Nick Forte has a hard time leaving well enough alone. He seriously injures a man for slapping a woman Forte has never seen before, so when Becky Tuttle comes to him with disconcerting letters sent to her author alter ago Desiree d’Arnaud, he does more than a cursory investigation. Following the thread of Becky’s problem leads through a local cop who takes the situation too lightly for Forte’s taste and into the disturbing world of men’s rights activists, for whom he has no use at all.
Becky’s case isn’t the only thing going on in Forte’s life. A chance meeting with Lily O’Donoghue, a former prostitute whose mother’s death Forte feels responsible for, leads to a blackmailer who has videos of Lily’s former occupation. Forte takes care of the blackmailer with minimal fuss, but learns (again) that no good deed goes unpunished. Forte’s innocent intercession brings him back into the sphere of Chicago gangster Mickey Touhy, who has interest in both Lily and Forte.
Forte’s usual cast of Sharon, Goose, Delbert, Sonny, Jan, and, of course, his daughter Caroline do what they can to keep him on an even keel. The problem is that Forte’s keel may be permanently damaged and the only resolutions he can arrive at satisfy no one, least of all himself.