Matthew Scudder, free-lance unlicensed investigator, is working for Reliable Investigations. He's recently off the booze and is attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly. He's also divorced and off the police force, and he seeing Elaine, a high-price call girl who's sort of a girlfriend.
Years ago, James Lee Motley, a brutal rapist and murderer, tried to take Elaine over and become her pimp. Scudder, using somewhat unorthodox methods (to say the least) got him sentenced to 10 years in prison. Now he's out, and he's threatened to murder Scudder and all his women.
Elaine's friend, Connie, another prostitute Motley tried to beat into submission, is found dead – apparently a victim of a murder-suicide by her husband. A woman who did no more than have dinner with Scudder before the two of them were scheduled to speak at an AA meeting apparently jumps out of her window. Then a financial analyst named Elizabeth Scudder is brutally raped and murdered. Her only connection to Matthew is a coincidence of last names.
Matt finally gets a break – someone can lead him to Motley. It turns out to be a setup, and Motley nearly kills Scudder. He leaves him half-conscious on an empty lot, and warns him that he is only being left alive now because his women must all be killed before he is.
Matt intensifies the hunt. Despite his warnings, Elaine lets her guard down, and Motley gets into her apartment. Now her life and Scudder's depend on the success of his investigation.
This report prepared by David Gordon