Preston Hauser, owner of a famous department store, asks his head of security, Quint McCauley, to investigate some threatening letters he has received. No sooner does Quint take on the job, than Preston is poisoned by one of his own vitamin pills. With Quint looking on. Suspicion falls on Hauser’s young wife, Diana, but Quint quickly learns she’s not the only one who might benefit from the millionaire’s death.
The likable protagonist of this creditable first novel is Quint McCauley, a middle-aged ex-cop recently jilted by his 23-year-old lover. McCauley is head of security for Hauser's, a large Chicago department store. Preston Hauser, president of the store, has been receiving threatening letters, and asks McCauley to quietly investigate. At a meeting with McCauley in his office, Preston takes his daily vitamins--and dies: the capsules were laced with cyanide. McCauley tells Preston's wife, Diana, a fetching kleptomaniac, that she is a widow; she finds the news hilarious and tries to seduce him. McCauley resists; he has recently become roommates with Elaine Kluszewski. He and Elaine investigate the various Hauser's executives that Preston had suspected of writing the letters. Brod's settings and dialogue are realistic and believable, more than making up for a repetitive running gag on the difficulty of parking in Chicago. Despite the obvious flag or two pointing the way to the guilty doorstep, this hard-boiled first-in-a-series is solid, satisfying fare.