A string of murders has suddenly left a proliferation of widows in the 87th Precinct, and one of the cases hits especially close to home for the detectives of the precinct.
The first victim is a beautiful young woman named Susan Brauer, who is viciously stabbed to death with a small knife. She leaves no widow behind, but she does leave a collection of intensely erotic letters, from her lover, a married lawyer. When the lawyer is then killed, he does leave a beautiful widow along with a safe deposit box full of erotic letters that apparently constitute the other half of Susan Brauer's correspondence.
Most of the obvious suspects, including the lawyer's widow and daughters, seem to have solid alibis, and detectives Carella and Brown suddenly have a very knotty case on their hands. Then, Carella's father, a baker, is shot to death in his store, leaving Carella grieving and his mother a widow.
Carella's father was murdered in another neighborhood, and Carella is forced to let the detectives of that precinct work the case. But naturally, he is desperate to see that the case is pursued to a successful conclusion. The narrative moves back and forth between the two investigations, each of which is difficult and complex in its own way, and this turns out to be another very engaging story. Another winner from one of the masters of crime fiction.