Karl Lippert has two problems, on the lam after a robbery that resulted in murder, he's brought his wife with him, and the police are trying to locate her because she is taking medicine that has accidentally been switched with a deadly poison.
Key men at an electronics firm are being murdered, but no motive can be discerned. Lt. Adams enlists the help of psychiatrist Buel Reed, who explains the killer may actually want to be caught, and can be, if only the clues present can be understood.
At an old folks home, a woman working undercover for the police is murdered, and the owners of the home are the prime suspects, as they have scammed their residents in the past. When they try to run away, it seems all but certain they're guilty, but Adams believes the killer is one of the home's residents.
The Metropolitan Squad pursues a man who killed a housewife. The killer tricked the housewife to letting him in her house, making her believe he was a friend of her husband. The killer selects his victims after picking up information from people who have given a ride while he hitchhikes. Now, a woman who was assaulted by the killer earlier comes forward as new clues emerge about his M.O. Adams and his men race to find the killer before he can strike again.
A drug-addicted girl has a Mexican boyfriend that wants to somehow get her off heroin, and away from the vicious pusher who runs a shabby office in a run down neighborhood. Adams and his squad have a plan to bust the traffickers that involves them both, but The problem for the man is that since he's in America illegally, he fears involvement with the police.
An outbreak of disastrous fires might be the random work of a pyromaniac, but Adams can't be sure until clues prove that valuable, insured merchandise was somehow spared. It's the work of a professional firebug, decimating stores and property to order for a well organized arson ring.
An old friend of Adams, Floyd Blaylock, who was his sergeant from the Korean War, is in town and making trouble. Though he is a decorated hero for saving Adams's life, he's deeply scarred from his experiences psychologically and seeks to assuage imagined guilt by committing dangerous acts.
A German refugee runs a Hofbräu near the waterfront, but he's harassed by a Norwegian family of fisherman who accuse him of Nazi war guilt. Things come to a violent head when one of them is murdered-with a swastika-marked dagger in his back. Lt. Adams doubts such an obvious clue.
An erudite murderer has been luring lonely spinsters to their deaths with tales of love and romantic destinations. He knows about traveling, he's left a string of such killings across the country-now he's in Los Angeles, where his latest victim-to-be is warned in time, yet she refuses to believe the police, no matter what.