A body turns up at a merry-go-round. There are no identifying papers on the body and the labels have been removed from the man's clothing. The few clues available point Burke toward an actress under exclusive contract to Flood, a rarely seen industrialist. Burke discovers a number of women are under such exclusive contracts. Then, the detective discovers the dead man was Flood himself. Burke must figure out who, among a number of suspects, committed the crime.
Cable Roberts, a legendary writer, documentary filmmaker, and hunter in the Hemingway mold, is found murdered in his study. There are three significant clues: he was killed with one of his own rifles, he was shot twice big game style, and his body was propped against a wall alongside his many hunting trophies.
Julian Buck, one of America's most respected authors, is found strangled to death in his study. The manuscript for his latest novel is missing, but one curious item is found: what appears to be an extra rubber cap for the feet of his typewriter stand.
One of a set of identical sisters with odd personalities is poisoned with cyanide at the residence of a beach bum and Burke and Tilson uncover a family history of suspicious deaths involving a cast of quirky characters.