The story begins with a double cross. Two mobsters who work for Tony Calli, meet with four Cambodians. They plan to collect a two million dollar ransom from the Cambodians, in return for the Cambodian college student the mobsters had kidnapped. However, after they receive the money, the mobsters kill the Cambodians. Then a third party kills the mobsters and makes off with the money.
Charlie "Bird" Parker, a former NYPD officer who left the job after his wife and little daughter were murdered, now has his PI license. He does a favor for Rita Purdue. He finds her ex-husband, Billy, and gets him to pay some of the support and alimony that was due Rita and their small child.
Unfortunately, some of the money Billy gave to Charlie was in new bills in the same denomination as was stolen a few days earlier.
This sets forces against Billy. Tony Celli's gang, two independent killers and someone else, enter the picture, to seek out Billy and retrieve the money. Killing and torturing people to get to Billy and the money doesn't bother anyone in this group.
Charlie regards Billy as a friend and feels Billy is over his head so tries to warn him.
John Connolly seems influenced by the early work of Stephen King. His good characters are quite sympathetic but those who are evil, are terrifying.
There is good suspense throughout the story which culminates nicely at the conclusion. There are also some surprises along the way which add to the entertainment of the story.