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A distraught newspaper columnist takes matters into his own hands by publicly revealing who he thinks committed the crime when he feels that the police department is handling his daughter's murder investigation ineptly.
When militant black leader Jimmy Barlowe is accused of murdering the sister of a white councilman, Lt. Dan August can't figure out why Jimmy is refusing any help to acquit him of the crime.
Lt. Dan August can't get an ex-priest to violate the sanctity of the confessional even though the father took the confession of a killer.
Alexander Venable, a rich philanthropist who paid for Lt. Dan August's college education, has been murdered, and the field of suspects include a brother, a daughter, her boyfriend and the old man's wife...all who had reasons to want him dead.
After 16-year-old Joe dies of a heroin overdose, Lt. Dan August tries to find the seller of the heroin and bring him in before anymore young people meet the same fate.
Dan August must deal with racial feelings, already running high because of a farm workers' strike, as they surge toward the boiling point after a Mexican-American child is killed in a bus crash and the investigation reveals a severed rod in the engine.
When race car driver Gabe Redfern is pulled out of the ocean, in his car, it appears to be a tragic accident. But Lt. Dan August believes otherwise, having been in an accident with Redfern recently.
The disappearance of Los Angeles housewife Marin Ord, and a crime scene with a lot of blood, seem to indicate a disastrous event has happened concerning the missing women. But one major obstacle stands in the way of Lieutenant Dan August solving the case...he can't find a body.