Jack LeClere is a cop dodging bullets in what could best be described as friendly fire. He took out the serial killer who murdered his parents, and half of New Rhodes paid the price. Not to mention the rioting that gripped the city over the Julia Mae Jefferson murder, his last big case. So in the spirit of the aftermath, his superiors have called into question every sliver of his conduct. Jack is wealthy; he doesn’t need to be a detective, and the top brass are implying that maybe if he followed procedure like his livelihood depended on it, he wouldn’t want to be a cop.
Leonard Beloit is a pillar of the community and a very wealthy man also, which does him no good when Jack gets called to the Grand Royal Theater to find him on the floor, his chest pierced with a gem pickaxe. Jack’s search for the person who killed Beloit starts with the search for the person who was Beloit. As he speaks with Beloit’s wife and daughter and digs even further, Jack finds a lustful, vagrant degenerate that would be unrecognizable in the society pages. Gangs, petty crimes, and not-so-petty crimes seem to be Beloit’s off-hours pastime.
None of this would call for Beloit’s death, but Jack will keep digging, and soon realize he is peeling into the rot of the onion of New Rhodes high society, of which he is a reluctant member. The deeper he gets investigating what his peers are doing in the shadows, the more they investigate him, asking, in their own way, whether he’ll stop playing cop and do something with the vast inheritance he rarely uses, and claims to never want.
Beloit’s exploits take a very dangerous turn in the form of a conspiracy to transport toxic chemicals through the Adirondacks; it may be that the smoking gun is wrapped up in a smokestack.
The case to find, and hold accountable, Beloit’s killer will pit him against not only the killer, but a version of himself that it seems everyone around him sees, that perhaps he can’t remain blind to anymore.