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Vultures is the seventh book in the Tracy Cunningham, P.I. series.
Tracy is relaxing on a Saturday morning with sailing friends. As she is bantering with a fellow competitor, her on-again off-again boyfriend, Lieutenant Gregory Phillips comes into the yacht club.
Tracy greets him and he asks if he can call in a favor. They step into her office (The upper deck). Because there might be a serial killer on the loose, he has been ordered to ask Tracy if she can get an undercover Vice cop into the Eden Connection as an S&M girl. The biggest rub is that the VC who is going UC is Tracy's most heated frenemy and rival for Greg's attention, Vice Sergeant Terry Frankfurter, AKA Hot Dog.
Tracy is between a rock and a hard place. Because of her word of honor, she is committed to try to get Hot Dog inside. Hot Dog She convinces Nora, her former boss to groom the enemy. Hot Dog In turn the EC (Eden Connection) gets a free skate for six months.
Nora reluctantly agrees. Tracy picks up Frankfurter and as they drive to the condo, Hot Dog admits that if she has to go all the way with a customer, she will. This results in Tracy nearly crashing her car.
In the condo, during Hot Dog's makeover, Tracy notices that Frankfurter has lost some weight. There is an imperceptible sallowness about her. On Hot Dog's first out-call, once she determines the client isn't the slasher, she goes all the way. There is nothing her back-up can do about it.
A week later, on a Sunday morning, Wormy Dunnegan, Greg's partner, calls Tracy. Frankfurter was killed by the slasher, right under her back-up's nose. Greg is taking it hard. Hot Dog had moved back in with him.
Tracy is pissed. She confronts Phillips with the question, "Who's stupid idea was this anyway? Seems to me the whole operation was bungled from the get-go."
Turns out the whole thing was Frankfurter's idea.
A task force is formed. Tracy is asked to join the task force as an expert adviser. Tracy and Phillips work together, but Tracy isn't going to allow any relationship to change. She is only his ex.
Another escort is murdered. Days later another girl is killed. After more leg, Tracy is asked to write summations on the dry-erase board. She knows she was asked because of her south end. In good humor, she stands on a stool and begins.
As they work through all the details, Tracy sees something that is escaping the others. After some questions, she points out of the five girls, three are overlays, and two others are overlays, but the two groups are not. Des this indicate two killers?
The task force splits up, with Greg bossing one, and Wormy the other. Tracy opts to work with Wormy so she can learn from a different teacher. They're after the copy cat. They drive to the capital to question the father of one of the girls. He denies that his daughter was a working girl. They interview her mother, who admits there had to be something to the idea.
Tracy gets an identity on the copy cat. A man wanted his ex girlfriend dead, and killed a call girl simply to make a matching homicide.
Tracy and Phillips hook back up. Together, they figure out the key evidence left behind, and are able to jump ahead of the slasher. They are lying in wait when he shows up. After a car chase, which ends in Greg's car being up-side down in a sand dune, Tracy is assigned a seat in the front of a CHP car.
In the foggy night, the slasher manages to knock out the window of the car and force Tracy to the driver's seat. He shoves a CHP helmet over her head and tells her to "drive".
Tracy manages to survive an attack, and when he tries again, she's had it. She stomps on the gas, driving like a wild woman to the Golden Gate. She plans to "take his half of the car off at a zillion miles an hour."
She wakes up in the hospital, with broken bones and a crooked smile. When she leaves, it is with Greg at her side, Lee driving and a few new dark secrets in her brain's recesses.
And the media Vultures scramble about to make their deadlines.