Jake Axminster is a hard-boiled, wise-cracking private eye in Los Angeles during the 1930's. Mary Kingston hires him to prove her innocence. She is being framed for murdering her boyfriend, and the police are seeking her whereabouts. Jake hides her in a beach house and begins his investigation. He discovers that Mary and her boyfriend witnessed a man's murder at a party on the previous night, and she fled but her boyfriend was captured and killed. The man murdered at the party was a reporter who was about to publish a story of some importance, concerning the date of ...
Jake continues to hide Mary at the beach house while he attempts to prove her innocence. His investigation leads him to a clandestine group of very prominent and powerful men, who are plotting the overthrow of the United States' government on November thirteenth. He witnesses their army on maneuvers, is bribed and threatened by the President of a large movie studio, and beaten by a corrupt police lieutenant.
Jake makes contact with Gen. Smedley Butler as they discuss the plot to overthrow the U.S. government. Jake tricks Noel Crossman, Jr. into leading him and the police to the reporter's body, clearing Mary of murder charges.
Jake is hired by a wealthy man named Underhill to see if his wife Velma is having an affair. Jake follows Velma that night, and as she arrives home he hears a shot ring out from the house. Rushing inside, he finds Underhill shot to death in his den, and a bullet hole in the window. Velma's boyfriend is arrested for the murder, but Jake doesn't think he's guilty. As he begins his investigation, he discovers many suspects and a bizarre method of attempted murder.
April Miller is a friend of Jake's, and Lt. Quint has Axminster arrested in the middle of the night to question him about her apparent suicide. April had come to Jake earlier in the evening asking for his help. She'd had an accident on the road, and thought she had killed the woman in the other car. When Jake takes April back to the scene of the accident, they discover the car and the woman are now missing. Believing April has been murdered, Jake's investigation leads him to the door of the ex-governor and his estranged wife. Suspects abound, and an attempt is made on...
Jake investigates a house-of-ill-repute called "The Castle Of Dreams", where the ladies look like famous movie stars. The investigation leads to murder, the disappearance of Jake's secretary, and a run-in with a movie studio executive.
A wealthy oil executive's wife disappears. He hires Jake to find her, and Jake winds up getting involved with a Chinese brothel owner in Oregon, a nightclub singer, a nun and one of Lt. Quint's unsolved murder cases.
Jake is hired by an insurance company to investigate the alleged death of a man in a small town in New Mexico. Jake runs afoul of the corrupt judge and sheriff, and must be rescued by his secretary and lawyer.