Lettie owns a gold mine in the desert. Lettie's two sisters, a brother, and a grand-nephew and his wife come for their annual visit. Trapped in the house in the middle of the desert, they start getting killed off, one by one.
Emily and her boyfriend steal $25,000 in bonds from her boss's safe. She has a change of heart and wants to return the bonds, but her boyfriend and the bonds are gone. Harry is hired to find the missing boyfriend.
Harry is attending a seaside jazz club when he hears a trumpeter playing in tune outside. Suddenly the trumpeter falls into the water - pushed in by a hit man unnoticed by anyone else. Harry, thinking the trumpeter passed out from being drunk, takes him to his beach house to sober up, and the next morning leaves to buy groceries. When Harry returns he finds a bottle of scotch broken and his car gone, stolen by the trumpeter. He also finds a young singer, Ruthie Daniels, waiting for him; Ruthie knows who the trumpeter is - her father, Arthur "Art Sully" Daniels. ...
Carl Milland is a legitimate, successful businessman who used to be a big-time gangster. Harry witnesses Mr. Milland's daughter being murdered on the beach, and sees a young man in the vicinity moments later. The police arrest the young man, who is an aspiring actor named Todd Conway, but release him for lack of evidence. Todd then hires Harry the next day after an attempt on his life. Orwell suspects Carl Milland has put a 'hit' on Todd, and strikes a deal with Milland to give him 24 hours to find the real killer of his daughter.
A college student is murdered on campus and the prime suspect seems more interested in the investigation than worried about it. All clues point in one direction, but Harry digs deeper to find the truth.
Lt. Manny Quinlan drives to Los Angeles in order to help his drug addicted niece. He finds her in a seedy hotel, but it is a setup and he's shot. An envelope full of money is planted on his body to make it appear he was a 'dirty' cop. Before he dies however, he manages to mail the envelope full of money to Harry, and Orwell takes it from there, investigating his friend's murder and trying to clear his good name and reputation.
Harry reads in the paper that his old Korean War buddy died in a plane crash. His widow tells Harry about him acting strangely before his fatal flight and Harry decides to find out what really happened.
A man calls Harry Orwell while Harry is asleep, but when the half-awake Harry answers, there is nothing, so Harry hangs up. The next day Harry learns that Frank McDonald, an old friend from his days with the San Diego PD, has been found dead. The death is ruled a suicide but Harry is skeptical, and after learning that McDonald was the man who called him that night, Harry begins backtracking those who most recently knew McDonald. He meets a woman McDonald knew from attending AA meetings, a woman who was married to wealthy businessman Walter Nesbitt. Harry then begins ...