On an October evening in 1949, lawyer turned private detective Lawrence Mallory thinks he's taking his wife, Kate, out for an evening of wine, lobster, and other frivolities. What he doesn't realize is that he's about to embark on the most perplexing and complicated case of his career not to mention the most dangerous.While at dinner, he and Kate run into Noreen Logan, a somewhat ditzy one-time flapper and an old flame of Mallory's. Upon learning Mallory is now a private eye, she decides she wants to hire him. It seems her ex-husband, Sam Henderson, owner of a bar called the Blue Angel, wants to meet her later that evening and she'd like to have someone along "just in case." Mallory agrees, but when he and Kate arrive at the rendezvous spot they find that neither Noreen nor her ex are anywhere to be seen. Who they do find is a very large and unpleasant gentleman Mallory nicknames "Mighty Joe Young" after the oversized ape of movie fame. Before long, Mallory is staggering back to his car with blood dripping down his face, the result of it being whacked by the barrel of the big man's Luger. After some quick first aid by Kate, they tail Mighty Joe to a doctor's office where they see an ambulance take a blonde woman away. Noreen was a blonde.The next morning, Mallory finds out from Lt. Higgins, a homicide detective and old friend, that Henderson's body was found in the park across the street from where he and Noreen were to meet. As for Noreen, she's not only still missing; she's well on her way to becoming the chief suspect in Henderson's murder. Aided by Kate, with whom he trades wisecracks a' la Nick and Nora, and their teenage daughter who has aspirations of becoming a homicide detective herself, Mallory solves the case and finds out what happened to Noreen and her ex. But it wasn't easy. In his own words: "In the last three days I've been pistol whipped, drugged until I was as loopy as a goony bird, shot at, barely avoided being beaten to a pulp, and threatened by everyone but the local bishop." Add to that a nasty encounter with a couple of Rottweilers and a shoot-out in the back yard of a powerful industrialist's mansion and Mallory's lucky to still be breathing and vertical.On the bright side, since Henderson was a tavern owner Mallory gets to do a lot of sleuthing in bars (all in the line of duty, as he tells Kate), and he even finds a jovial bartender who makes a near perfect martini, Mallory's libation of choice. However the bartender, friendly and mixologically gifted as he is, might well be hiding something. But then that can be said of just about everyone Mallory encounters on this case.