Number 20 in the 87th Precinct series opens with a woman being brutally slashed to death while her young daughter cowers in the next room, playing with her favorite doll. The victim is a beautiful model who would have naturally attracted the attention of a good many men, but why would one of them want her dead?
Meanwhile, back in the squad room of the 87th Precinct, trouble is brewing as well. Detective Bert Kling is still grieving the loss of his fiancé and is alienating everyone on the squad, including the lieutenant, with his surly behavior. The Lieutenant has decided to transfer Kling out, and Kling's only remaining defender is Steve Carella. Carella asks the Lieutenant to partner him with Kling in an effort to solve the murder of the beautiful model.
Carella hopes that there's still time to salvage Kling, who was once a productive member of the squad. But early on in the case, Kling manages to alienate even the last friend he has in the precinct, and Carella orders him to go home. Just then, Carella discovers a clue that may break the case wide open, but absent a partner, he decides to pursue it alone.
Well, every reader knows this is going to be a huge mistake and the result is a very gripping tale with some interesting twists and turns. The result is one of the more entertaining books in this long-running series. A quick but very satisfying read.